EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 8, 2013

Shopping center planned for vacant Malden Mills lot in Lawrence and Methuen

By Brian Messenger

---- — METHUEN — Starting this fall, a vacant lot on the former Malden Mills campus will be transformed into a 60,000-square-foot shopping center with a grocery store, restaurant, gym and bank.

Developer Waterstone Retail of Needham received final approval for the project in July and is expected to complete construction in early 2014. The shopping center will generate roughly $100,000 in property taxes for the city.

“We are thrilled that they’ve identified the site as a development opportunity,” said Methuen Community Development Director William Buckley. “It’s a gateway into Methuen and our downtown area. It’s great to see a new investment.”

The parcel in question is roughly six acres and located at 2 Broadway between Chase, French and Stafford streets. The vacant lot was once part of the Malden Mills campus, as well as the former site of a Pepsi bottling facility.

The development will be adjacent to Polartec. A portion of the property straddles the city line into Lawrence.

More than 34,000 people live within a mile of the site, according to the Waterstone Retail website.

“This provides retailers with an excellent opportunity to enter a dense and underserved market,” according to a statement on the website.

The main shopping center building will be built near French Street and include retail spaces of 15,000 and 10,000 square feet . Also planned is a 7,600-square-foot grocery store and seven retail spaces varying in size from 2,000 to 2,400 square feet. The parking lot will fit 229 cars. Two separate 3,200 square-foot buildings will be built closer to Broadway.

Though no tenants have been confirmed, Buckley said the shopping center will include space for a grocery store, gym, restaurant, bank and several smaller retail locations.

Buckley said Waterstone Retail applied for the project in May and received full approval from the Community Development Board and Zoning Board of appeals by the end of July.

Buckley said one reason the permitting process moved so quickly was because the company was willing to work closely with and address the concerns of the Methuen Arlington Neighborhood Association.

As a result, Buckley said the development is expected to be a “pedestrian friendly site.”

“This is very exciting news for the neighborhood and the city,” said Buckley.