EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 26, 2011

UMass Lowell purchases former St. Joseph Hospital

LOWELL — UMass Lowell has purchased the former St. Joseph's Hospital for $6.3 million and will invest millions more to rehabilitate the property and to begin occupying it as soon as possible, it was announced yesterday.

University Crossing, as the property is now called, will offer an important connection point centrally located between UMass Lowell's North, South and East campuses, and will provide much needed space for the growing university. UMass Lowell has seen a 30 percent increase in undergraduate students in the past three years.

The property, at 220 Pawtucket St., has gone largely unused since 1992, attracting only a handful of smaller health-related operations since the hospital relocated as part of a merger.

The property consists of six buildings totaling nearly 300,000 square feet that can be occupied, as well as 300 parking spaces in two lots that the university has been leasing.

Located between Merrimack and Salem streets in the city's Acre neighborhood, the site is a half-mile from Lowell City Hall and is within walking distance to UMass Lowell's three campuses and the downtown business and cultural district.

The property will initially be occupied by university police and some administrative functions. While plans for the site have not been finalized, potential uses include space for student services and activities, community programs, classrooms and faculty offices, a centralized and expanded bookstore, student dining options such as a food court and student housing. The additional space will increase UMass Lowell's total square-footage by 10 percent to top 3 million.

"Acquiring the former St. Joseph's Hospital building will allow the university to link its North, South and East campuses at a central point. Through this purchase, UMass Lowell is again making a significant investment to revitalize a Lowell landmark that has been underutilized for too long," said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan.

"We look forward to working with the city and neighborhood groups on plans to reinvigorate this vital area of Lowell."

"For the first time in decades, we will see this property used to its full positive potential," said Lowell City Manager Bernie Lynch. "Through all recent projects, UMass Lowell has demonstrated its commitment to quality redevelopment that benefits not only the university and its students, but the entire community."

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