More Progress on the Kerouac Front in Lowell July 23, 2011 by PaulM Posted in Culture, History, Lowell 4 Comments From the UMass Lowell Public Affairs Office, read more about new Kerouac developments in Lowell. Jack Kerouac tuning in to the universe. (Photo by John Cohen, 1959; web image courtesy of theselvegeyard) 4 Responses to More Progress on the Kerouac Front in Lowell Joe S says: July 23, 2011 at 6:22 am The City is apparently planning to offer the Smith Baker center for sale. (Vote-Declare Surplus 412 Merrimack St. (Smith Baker Center) $300,000.00.) Is there a corresponding plan in the works to buy it and make good use of it? PaulM says: July 23, 2011 at 7:08 am Joe: The City’s RFP calls for reuse of the S-B Center as a community arts center, and there is support for making this a place with a Kerouac element (wall exhibit, short film, or some other form of presenting the JK story on a daily basis) as part of what happens in the building. The hope is that we get a first-rate medium-scaled performance hall upstairs, a cultural production center downstairs to encourage the creative Lowellians of today and tomorrow, and a Kerouac element integrated into the facility. George DeLuca says: July 23, 2011 at 8:19 am Because of the deplorable existing conditions of The Smith Baker Center, completion of such a project would likely cost in the range of $9 – $12 million. Where would these funds come from? There’s a better alternative that’s actually ready to go as a “Community Arts Center” perhaps even a “Lowell Center for the Arts” in the French Canadian neighborhood a little further up Merrimack St. Information about the St. Jean Baptiste Church initiative can be found at http://www.cometolowell.com/TMI/index.htm . This facility could be ready within the next year. Stay tuned as we roll out additional information in the coming months. PaulM says: July 23, 2011 at 9:10 am That’s what the City’s RPF is about, George—to test the development network’s interest in this project. The developer would do the project, not the City. Years of planning have been invested in trying to find a solution to the re-use of S-B Center. The building is owned by the City and cannot be torn down because of its historic importance. Mayor Caulfield had a blue-ribbon committee that recommended an arts center use, the Mt. Auburn Associates consultants prioritized the renovation of the building in the recent Creative Economy Plan, COOL studied options for taking the Kerouac subject matter to the next level in the city, and so forth. The RPF is the next logical step to test the development waters. Please refrain from trashing the potential adaptive reuse before we learn more about prospects for success.