Lowell’s downtown offers a unique blend of urban amenities. The cultural hub of the Merrimack Valley, Lowell is home to some of the region’s leading venues and historic landmarks. Recently featured in Boston Magazine as one of the Top Spots to live in Massachusetts, the city was recognized for its affordability, arts community and public transportation. From inspiring galleries and eclectic shops to professional sports and international cuisine, Lowell has big city amenities without the big city price tag.
Since the creation of the Downtown Lowell Arts District in 1998, Downtown Lowell has enjoyed a development boom. This has attracted young professionals, artists, and empty nesters returning to the city as well as others to invest in condominiums in converted mills and other buildings, many of which had sat vacant for years or even decades. The success of the early projects has inspired more developers to take on larger and larger projects. Since 2000, the following improvements have occurred:
- More than 1,600 new units have been occupied in Downtown Lowell;
- Of the 5,175,765 square feet of downtown mills that were vacant in the 1970s, over 92% have been redeveloped;
- More than 3 million square feet of downtown buildings have been redeveloped.
Lowell’s location is a huge asset to ongoing redevelopment. The city is well-positioned just 30 miles north of Boston. Two major airports are located less than one hour from the city, Boston Logan International (40 minutes) and Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (30 minutes). The city sits at the junction of Interstate 495 and Route 3, a limited-access highway serving southern New Hampshire to Manchester. Lowell’s population per the 2010 US Census is 106,519, an increase of 1.29% since 2000. The city is also home to 17,191 students who attend UMass Lowell and 9,392 who attend Middlesex Community College. Lowell’s labor force in May 2015, in non-adjusted numbers, is 54,828 and Lowell’s unemployment rate is 5.7%.
Regional and local demographic trends remain strong for downtown urban housing. Significant portions of regional households in Massachusetts are single people living alone and couples without children, either empty-nest couples or younger couples without children, which are categories that have been and will continue to be among the strongest growth segments of the Eastern Massachusetts housing market. Many of these people are seeking the type of urban environment that can be offered in Downtown Lowell that would not be available in many other locations. The City has also experienced significant recent institutional investment. This includes $120 million invested in Lowell health care facilities over the past four years and $625 million invested in new education facilities since 2007.
The primary attractions to Downtown Lowell are its urban context, arts culture, beautifully preserved architecture, cobblestone streets, and unique system of waterways. These factors set it apart from most other possible locations in the Eastern Massachusetts real estate market. The Hamilton Canal provides an opportunity to expand on this market by capitalizing on many of the same features, reinforced by convenience to commuter rail and highway transportation and the opportunity to create new construction which can provide greater flexibility for development to meet contemporary needs than restorations of existing buildings while still capturing the architectural character of an historic mill town.