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Senator Donoghue Looks Back on 30 Years of revitalization in Lowell

APRIL 12, 2012

Yesterday, city and cultural leaders from many of the state's 24 Gateway Cities, including Lowell, gathered at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center to discuss "Creative Placemaking," using arts and culture as catalysts for economic development and community revitalization.   "Gateway cities drive regional economies," said Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, adding the state is often Boston-centric and by funding economic development, infrastructure, housing and education programs that specifically target the Gateway Cities, the administration is "leveling the playing field."   In Lowell, the revitalization began 30 years ago with the creation of the Lowell National Historical Park, when city leaders began realizing they needed to embrace, not erase the city's history as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.Lowell is not Portsmouth or Newburyport and shouldn't try to be, said State Senator Eileen Donoghue, a former Lowell mayor, adding Lowell's success has come in finding its "authentic self." The City Council embraced that, she added, and made the zoning changes that paved the way for artist live/work spaces and other cultural attractions.   The Senator played an integral role in Lowell's comeback, having represented the city in some capacity for over 15 years.   Since 2000, 1,500 new housing units have been built, 94 are under construction now, 750 have been permitted, and 157 are in the permitting process. The amount of vacant space renovated and reborn has hit 2.6 million square feet, with another 750,000 square feet currently under construction or permitted.   Read the entire article here.


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