Lets Turn Lupoli's Vision into Reality
Sal Lupoli has always thought big. Now the Chelmsford restaurateur and real-estate entrepreneur must think big, fast and out of the box.
That's because of the self-imposed timetable he announced after the Lowell Planning Board gave his plans for a mixed-use development at the former Comfort Bedding building site on Thorndike Street a conditional green light.
Contributing factors have added to the scale and pace of this project, the most important of which was UMass Lowell's decision to purchase the Perkins Park apartment complex, home to several hundred young professionals.
Facing the prospect of either finding other suitable housing in the city or moving elsewhere, Lupoli met with several of these displaced residents in hopes of reaching a mutually beneficial solution.
Of course, that was contingent on a favorable ruling by the Planning Board, which came on Wednesday, with one significant caveat.
Planners approved Lupoli's latest plan to increase the number of apartments at the new Thorndike Exchange from 118 to 152, and to decrease the envisioned commercial space by half.
With those Perkins residents in mind, Lupoli vowed to have 42 apartments units ready in nine months, in time for a seamless transition.
However, there's bump in the road that could potentially kill the whole deal.
This ambitious project sits between the entrance to the Lowell Connector and the Gallagher Terminal, one of the most congested sections of roadway in the city, especially during rush hours.
Turning left onto Thorndike Street from the development could be a motorist's nightmare.
The city wants to make such a turn illegal, while Lupoli says his project won't fly without that option. A few long-term solutions have been aired, but none that solves the immediate problem.
The city and Lupoli have forged a solid relationship that would dramatically improve a key gateway to Lowell. It would be a tragedy if this impasse scuttled this project, which we believe is too important to fail.
We trust the city's traffic engineers, working with Lupoli, can find some middle ground, like allowing left turns on off-peak hours.
Just think of how this residential-commercial project, along with a completed Judicial Center down the street and other Hamilton Canal District developments, will change the face of the city.
That's what a committed private-public partnership can accomplish.
By Lowell Sun Opinion • August 19, 2016 • The Lowell Sun • Original Article