Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union presents plans for Acre Crossing to Lowell City Council – Lowell Sun
LOWELL – There has to be a progression from social housing to the next stage of home ownership, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union President and CEO Mark Cochran told city council on Tuesday.
“I see this as the next step in ownership that we can take,” he said.
Cochran was describing a new project that JDCU is about to embark on, redeveloping two of its currently unused buildings at the corner of Merrimack and Cabot streets into a mixed-use development that will bring 32 two- and three-bedroom condominiums to Acre.
“The important thing about condos is just that they’re condos,” he said. “So this is not low-rental housing. This is the next level of acceptance from people that we can create affordable programs so they can start homeownership. They are usually first-time home buyers. The credit union, along with other organizations, will present special funding, special ways for them to be able to qualify.
Cochran, JDCU Board Chairman John Chemaly and developer Will Soucy presented plans for Acre Crossing to City Council in what City Manager Eileen Donoghue called “a preview of upcoming attractions.” .
According to Cochran and Soucy, the project will consist of two five-story buildings with a connection to the first floor. The building on the left will be a 30,000 square foot credit union and the building on the right will have 4,700 square feet of retail space on the first floor and condos on the upper floors. There will also be 160 parking spaces in a two-level garage, with the lower level in the basement.
Cochran said it will look like surface parking instead of a parking garage and will meet all the parking needs of the credit union, condos and retail operations. He said this exceeds the amount of parking required by the zoning and that no parking on the street will be required.
The 109-year-old credit union started and spent its entire existence in Acre, Cochran said, and Soucy has already helped JDCU build its head office in Tremont Yard and its branch at 581 Merrimack Street.
“This is our next project in Acre,” Cochran said. “We think it’s more than just a credit union. We really think this is a great addition for the whole neighborhood.
Chemaly, recalling studies done at Lowell years earlier by town planner Jeff Speck, said there were three major points following him regarding the components of a thriving city.
“The three things I really remember are cranes in the sky, traffic on the sidewalks after 6pm and above street level occupancy,” Chemaly said.
He said the Acre Crossing project is exciting because it addresses all of these elements, “and it will be wonderful for this part of town.
Cochran said the next steps are to take the project to zoning and planning councils and seek state and local funding sources. He said Donoghue and his staff have already helped identify funding programs that will help subsidize part of the cost of the project, “which will allow us to keep prices lower and make it affordable for people to live there. .
Donoghue said that there are certain state programs that she believes will be a perfect fit for the project, not only for housing but also for improving infrastructure, which she said the city will “be pursuing in such a way. agressive”.
The advisers were also enthusiastic about the project.
Councilor Bill Samaras said he has long been concerned about the hallway between City Hall and UMass Lowell, which is one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. When the city won the Working Cities Challenge grant from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, he said the JDCU supports the city’s efforts as a community partner and listens to the concerns and needs of neighborhood residents.
“Their concerns were jobs, better living conditions and a more positive environment for this region, and you really met all of those needs,” Samaras said. “So thank you for what you are doing. I’m proud to be able to be here tonight and see this.
Councilor Rodney Elliott agreed that the project addresses many of the needs and issues in the neighborhood. He recalled a previous university dormitory space proposal that he said would have contributed to density and parking issues rather than alleviating them, so he appreciates the JDCU project providing more parking than required by zoning.
Elliott said the hallway once known as Little Canada was once one of the city’s most prosperous areas, but now “needs some attention.” He said the JDCU project is “exciting and a significant improvement” that will advance affordable housing, improve parking and bring significant tax revenues to the city, “a win-win in every way.”
Cochran said they hope to break through in the fall, with the goal of completion in 2023.