EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 26, 2012

With 81 apartments, Pacific Mill aims for residential conversion

LAWRENCE — As many as 345 apartments could be built on the site of the 7-acre Pacific Mill complex over the next five years if initial plans for 81 units are approved by the city and the economy continues to improve, according to a developer and mill property manager.

Brady Sullivan Properties, based in Manchester, N.H., has agreed to purchase three of the five Pacific Mill buildings — which now house commercial and industrial tenants — with an eye toward converting one of them to 81 apartments while the other two would continue to house businesses.

Alida Davis, property manager for the historic, riverfront mill site at the junction of Canal Street and the Casey Bridge, said "with any luck, construction on the first phase could begin by the end of this year," with later phases over the next five or six years.

The first phase includes turning Building 6 — the first building on the left after crossing the bridge from Canal Street — into 81 apartments. That building now houses a number of businesses, including Davis' office suite, and the old Pacific Mill Diner, now known as Rachel's Diner.

The owner of Rachel's, Rachel DeSantis of Lawrence, said she will be closing at the end of this month. She said the closing of the cafe, which has been at the site since the 1970s, is happening because she is focusing more on her personal chef business. She said it just happens to coincide with the changes taking place on the property.

Two smaller buildings, buildings No. 3 and No. 5, are also to be sold to Brady Sullivan as part of Phase 1. They both house commercial tenants, which will likely remain on the property, Davis said.

She said that over the long-term, those buildings could be converted into office and mixed-retail properties but that for the time-being, the tenants would all stay.

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