EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 13, 2013

Companies eye former Lowe's site

Zoning will allow firms to move in after work on movie ends

By Shawn Regan

---- — HAVERHILL — More than one manufacturing company is interested in the former Lowe’s building on Computer Drive that Columbia Pictures is leasing to film scenes for the upcoming Denzel Washington movie called “The Equalizer.”

City officials said the movie studio has rented the building off Route 97 through August, with shooting expected to take place during three weeks in July. The building had been empty since the home improvement store abruptly closed in October 2011.

This week, City Council approved a zoning change for the property to allow a manufacturer to move in once the movie shoot is over.

William Pillsbury, economic development director for the city, said Haverhill would still like to see a retail store there, but that at least two manufacturing companies are interested in the site.

“It’s still zoned for retail, but this will give the owners another option by broadening the zoning to allow other possible uses,” Pillsbury said.

The building’s owner, KGI Properties of Providence, asked the city to modify the zoning, Pillsbury said.

He said company officials at the Target store next to the Lowe’s building have not voiced concerns about allowing a manufacturer at the former Lowe’s.

“New business growth in Haverhill is down, so I’m glad to see we are taking action to attract manufacturing companies to the city,” Councilor John Michitson said.

Pillsbury said at least two manufacturing companies are interested in the site, but that he was not at liberty to identify them.

“I just hope we find a tenant soon,” Councilor William Macek said. “But it’s good we have one on the horizon.”

Prior to Lowe’s, the property was home to Wang Laboratories and more recently a medical equipment maker, Pillsbury said.

Several manufacturing companies are near the site, including Southwick Apparel and Adamson Industries.

In October 2011, Lowes issued a press release that it was closing 20 under-performing stores in 15 states and cutting 1,950 jobs in an effort to focus on more profitable locations. Twenty stores were abruptly closed, including the Lowe’s in Haverhill, which opened in 2007 and employed 100 people.

Columbia Pictures is setting up on the property to film the “The Equalizer,” a big-screen adaptation of the popular 1980s television series that starred Edward Woodward as a private detective with a mysterious past who doled out vigilante justice.

Columbia also plans to shot a scene for the movie in Salisbury, along the eastern tip of the Broadway mall next to Joe’s Play Land.