Girls Incorporated of Lowell Week 7
Week 7 of The Exchange Experience brought 10 girls from Girls Inc. to Thorndike’s Experience Center to learn about public policy and how it is important to economic development and the Thorndike Exchange project. Allison Lamey, Director of Economic Development for the City of Lowell, started the class by letting them know that as a youth she was also a member of Girls Inc! Allison then gave the girls an overview of the city and talked about her role as a city planner. She told the girls that as a city planner she focuses on economic development and works with the business community to ensure they have the necessary resources to make a project successful. They learned that some of these resources include finding the right space, where to find a workforce for job creation, where to find financing and how important it is to define short and long term goals. They also learned about the necessity of a master plan and regulatory practices.
Allison was able to describe how it’s always a collaborative effort to bring a development into the city and she described how she works with Lupoli Companies staff on the Thorndike Exchange project. Since the girls have been learning about the Thorndike development it was great for them to hear that Thorndike is a prime example of a mixed-use, transit oriented development. Allison also told the girls that Thorndike Exchange is an excellent opportunity for the city because it benefits the city through various uses such as housing, business opportunities, retail and provides a tax base that goes directly into schools and city infrastructure.
When it was project time the girls worked with a partner to “think like a developer” and propose ideas for a particular parcel of land in Lowell along the canal district. Allison asked the girls to keep in mind considerations like parking, building access, types of uses and what would be a good fit for the city today and in the future. The girls came up with a number of great ideas and presented them to the group. Some of the ideas included artist’s studios and art galleries and mixed-use developments that contained day care centers, cafes, bingo for the elderly, kayak and canoe rentals, arcades and yoga on the canal. Karen, VP of Development for Thorndike Exchange, talked about how important it is to make streets safe. The girls learned that by including active spaces like restaurants, office space and retail they could develop a project that would add to street safety and also provide exciting amenities and opportunities.
On Friday, August 25th the girls will learn about residential leasing from Thorndike’s leasing specialist Tiana Winter. Once Thorndike’s beautiful apartments are built we will need someone to live there, and Tiana is an expert on how to lease residential space!