News broke last week that the Coalition for a Better Acre (CBA) is in negotiations to purchase the former St Peter’s Church property, now the home of Cooney Insurance & Real Estate. I spoke with some of those involved last week about the proposal which seems like a good one. The CBA would retain the existing building on the lot, the former rectory and now home to the Cooney business and several law firms, and would then construct two large apartment buildings containing a total of close to fifty units on the downtown side of the rectory.
The intended residents of these apartment units would be families of “moderate means” which equates to the family having wages between $29,000 and $50,000, depending on the size of the family. Given America’s “hour glass” economy, that income range might better be described as middle class.
While the project is only in the conceptual stages now, the CBA has a great track record for these types of developments. Anyone doubting that should take advantage of Doors Open Lowell this coming Saturday and visit the CBA’s most recent project, the former St Joseph’s High School on Merrimack Street.
The stretch of Gorham Street that passes in front of the St Peters property is indeed one of the gateways into the city. Many of the existing neighbors have done a great job maintaining their properties, but it’s as if the neighborhood never quite bounced back from the construction of the Lowell Connector and the closing of St Peter’s parish. Perhaps a project such as this might serve as a catalyst for a neighborhood renaissance.