Is Historic Lowell the Hippest City in the Area?
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UMass Lowell Medical Device Development Center just started to move into 110 Canal in the Hamilton Canal District in downtown Lowell, according to developer Trinity Financial's Abby Goldenfarb (with colleague Dan Drazen). The arrival of the District’s first commercial tenant signals another push in the revival of a city that was key in transforming America from agrarian to industrial 200 years ago. Lowell’s fortunes have fluctuated but it’s now on the right side of history—in step with Millennials seeking a car-free, live/work/play lifestyle.
Trinity Financial has done nearly $80M in development as part of the first phase of the $800M master plan for the District that calls for developing 725 units of housing and 425k SF of commercial space. Trinity completed the $64M redevelopment of Appleton Mills into 130 units of affordable artist housing; now 100% occupied. The developer is checking off punch list items at the 55k SF 110 Canal, a 1920s textile plant that it tore down to the concrete frame and rebuilt for $14M with the help of a 20% historic tax credit. Trinity has 30k SF left to lease.
As office rents rise in Boston, Cambridge and along Route 128, Lowell is an affordable alternative with an average asking rent of $20.36, much less than in Boston/Cambridge but more than surrounding Rte 3 submarkets, where it’s $18.07, says CBRE's Kerry Olson. While the downtown is being revitalized, Lowell also offers Millennials direct commuter rail service into North Station. Other investors are finding value here. In the past year, Anchor Line Capital purchased the 1M SF Cross Point property, once the home of Wang computers, and KS Partners acquired Connector Park.