Developer to Meet with Lowell Board to Get

Ball Rolling on Thorndike Street Project


LOWELL -- The public will get its first chance Monday to hear details for plans for the former Comfort Bedding and Furniture site on Thorndike Street, two years after the property changed hands and hopes for a rebirth began.

Plans call for about 50,000 square feet of commercial space, 35 market-rate apartments and seven penthouse units in a first phase. A second phase will include construction of a new six-story building with 76 market-rate apartments, according to details listed in a Planning Board meeting agenda.

The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., in the Council Chamber in City Hall.

It will be a so-called pre-application hearing, a way for the applicant to get feedback from city officials before filing a formal plan, said Eric Slagle, the city's director of development services.

A public hearing on the proposal would take place at a future meeting.

With little space for parking on the site, the proposal may run into questions about parking and traffic along a busy stretch of roadway. Because of the building's age and location in the downtown historic district, it'll also require approval from the Historic Board.

"We continue to work with the project proponents on the design review of the project," said Stephen Stowell, the Historic Board administrator.

The dilapidated mill has become an eyesore for many entering downtown from the Lowell Connector, and the building has been sparsely used in recent years. But, in addition to having easy highway access, it also has an MBTA commuter-rail station and a regional bus hub right in its backyard.

Sal Lupoli, owner of the Sal's Pizza and Salvatore's chains and a member of the Chelmsford School Committee, bought the site just over two years ago. Lupoli has also developed the Riverwalk Properties site in Lawrence, which includes about 200 tenants and more than 3.6 million square feet of space.

The Comfort Bedding building, built in 1880, is about 130,000 square feet. The property, which is only about 1.5 acres, was last assessed at just under $1.4 million.

The mill redevelopment would add to a flurry of work between the Gallagher Terminal and downtown.

Just on the other side of the nearby Lord Overpass, construction is expected to begin as soon as later this year on a $200 million courthouse complex. Just past that, two companies have bid on parcels to construct new buildings in the Hamilton Canal District, which is seeing new interest after falling years behind a schedule laid out in its master plan.

Elsewhere, a new residential phase of Massachusetts Mills is underway, and a building at Central and Merrimack streets was recently converted to 47 apartments. Another mill conversion will start later this year off Jackson Street.


By Greg Welker  •  March 18, 2016  •  The Lowell Sun  •  Original Article