Saturday Chat: There is more to Lowell than one project

LOWELL -- While the city is pretty split over the location of a new high school with a price tag of more than $300 million, many of us have kind of lost track of all the development going on in the city.

Hopefully, the new buildings will ease the pain of paying for the high school as Lowell is seeing some pretty high-end units already sold, under construction or in the planning stage.

City Manager Kevin Murphy is urging people to calm down and wait until all the facts are in before making judgment on the location and price of the school.

That is probably good advice.

So, as a diversion, I talked to a few developers and was pretty impressed at their optimism of the housing market, especially in downtown Lowell.

I find the numbers exciting and staggering.

The Daly Group development at One East Merrimack, located across from the Lowell Memorial Auditorium, is going to see a high-rise modern facility with the most expensive condos in the history of the city.

The Panos family is moving through the permitting process for its exciting boutique hotel/restaurant project on Market Street.

John DeAngelis is finishing up the front section of the former Sun headquarters in Kearney Square and has acquired the space inside 491 Dutton St. formerly occupied by the American Textile History Museum, and has some pretty elaborate plans for that site.

Sal Lupoli is moving rapidly with the Thorndike Exchange project, which will include apartments, restaurants and commercial space.

The Vision Development private dormitory project for UMass Lowell students, across the street from the high school, is leasing apartments for September occupancy.

And word is the exterior of the $200 million judicial center in Hamilton Canal District will be up by December.

I love looking out my window and seeing cranes and trucks getting ready for a new modern building through a sea of red bricks.

Combined, these projects total about a billion dollars and most are taxable.

DeAngelis already has opened seven units in the front section of the old newspaper building where I spent more than 40 years of my life.

The units were pushing the $500,000 price tag.

He's looking at some real upscale three-level condos in the building that used to be The Sun's press room.

A subsidiary of the Lowell Housing Authority is in the preliminary stages of an apartment/commercial development in the $20 million price level on Merrimack Street a few blocks up from City Hall.

This project is designed to help working poor families with affordable rents and will also be taxable. The agency, under this plan, will also release a number of residential properties back to the private rental market and back to the tax rolls.

It looks like the high-school issue may linger until August as councilors are looking for a clearer picture of the options and the impact on students, taxpayers and neighborhoods.

In the mean time, we should not lose sight of everything else going on in the city.

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