The creation of the Hamilton Canal Innovation District (HCID) began with our award-winning, year-long visioning process. Working groups reviewed the land assembled by the City, the context of the neighborhood and Downtown Lowell, and provided recommendations for stakeholder review. The original Master Developer used the community’s vision to create a realistic build-out plan that could be accomplished in the Massachusetts market. Community meetings debated and refined the development vision until consensus was reached on the HCD Master Plan (See “Exhibits to RFQ”). The HCID Master Plan was used to pre-permit the entire development district.
The City approved a new form-based code for the HCID that creates new zoning and subdivision requirements for each parcel and new right-of-way that match the HCD Master Plan and are in compliance with Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 40A (See Form-Based Code in “Exhibits to RFQ”). The development site requirements focus on the shape, lay-out and street presence of new buildings. All construction in furtherance of the HCID Master Plan is as-of-right. State regulations require that new construction receive proscriptive permits through the Lowell Conservation Commission and Lowell Historic Board. In addition to removing discretionary Special Permit requirements and Site Plan Approval requirements, the specificity of the form-based code allowed the City to undertake significant additional pre-permitting work including:
- Approval for the entire build-out, including the new parking garage, under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (See MEPA Certificate in “Exhibits to RFQ”).
- A Memorandum of Understanding, which will be updated with the new Master Developer, to ensure that all public historic reviews, including review authority of the State Historical Preservation Officer (SHPO) and Lowell National Historical Park (LNHP), are delegated to a single review process with the Lowell Historic Board.
- Designation as a Massachusetts Local Expedited Permitting area (known as the 43D program).
- Complete initial environmental investigations.