Lowell Planning Board Meeting: July 20, 2015

The transformation of the former Price Spaghetti plant into a massive data center owned by the Markley Group came before the Lowell Planning Board this evening for preliminary review.  I consider this to be one of the most significant projects in the city in quite a few years so I watched the meeting.  Here’s a synopsis:

2 Prince Ave

This is the former Prince Spaghetti plant, now owned by the Markley Group which intends to make it into a massive high tech data center.  Atty George Eliades, representing the Markley Group, compares this project to Dr. An Wang building the Wang towers 35 years ago.  He calls it a “game changer” for the city.  It’s a 14 acre parcel.  The project architect briefs the board on the plans for the building.  They plan to completely renovate the existing buildings with two smaller ones being demolished to make way for some of the equipment such as auxiliary generators and cooling equipment.  The landscape architect speaks next.

Several neighbors speak favorably about the project.  Another questions the level of security (apparently hopeful that it will be robust and thereby diminish illegal activity that has occurred there).  Another neighbor raises a question about noise from the equipment suggesting there might be consideration of noise suppression measures, but he ends by saying it’s a great project.  The company representative says they have noise reduction measures that will keep the noise below that required by the city.  He says they will require 65 megawatts of power which would require up to 20 generators.  Says they will store considerable diesel fuel on site but that is tightly regulated by the state.  No members of the public come forward to speak in opposition to the project.

The principal of the Markley Group is effusive in his praise for the cooperation extended by the government of the city in making this happen.  He says their staff members who are used to working with the city of Boston are stunned by how helpful the city of Lowell has been.

The Planning Board approves the site plan on the condition that the applicant continue working with DPD as the project progresses and that the applicant will report back to the Planning Board with updates from time to time.

There were several other items before the board.  I caught two that came before the Markley Group matter but tuned out once that one was finished.  Here are the two I saw:

34 Berry Road

Berry Road is a dead end street in Pawtucketville that runs from West Meadow Road.  This is a petition by a nonprofit to convert a former school building to apartments and to build several single family homes.  This matter had already been before the Planning Board and it returned tonight with some modifications to meet their concerns.  The applicant apparently did.  There was little substantive opposition from any members of the public.  The board granted approval of the project.

685-689 Lawrence Street

Conversion of the existing 4-story building into 50 apartment units.  This has been before the board in June so the applicant returns tonight with a revised plan.  This is a large brick industrial building at the corner of Andrews Street.  Considerable discussion about landscaping but the board approves the plan.  (This is the same builder who developed the former Sacred Heart Church into housing).