EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 10, 2013

Selectmen to decide fate of former school

NORTH ANDOVER — A Lowell non-profit corporation that wants to build affordable housing and retail space on the site of the former Bradstreet School says it has an “exciting plan ... that will add to the vibrancy of downtown North Andover.”

Two selectmen interviewed, Chairman William Gordon and Rosemary Connelly Smedile, said they are keeping open minds on the proposal.

The Coalition for a Better Acre was the only company or organization that responded to a request for proposals on developing the property at 70 Main St. The Coalition offered to buy the property for $300,000, tear down the century-old school and build a two-story structure that would have 5,000 square feet of store space on the first floor and 24 apartments for lower-income people on the second level.

The Coalition for a Better Acre, named after a large working class neighborhood in Lowell, has also asked the town to provide $720,000 in Community Preservation Act money to help finance the construction of the affordable housing. The applicant has requested $5.5 million from the state for the same purpose.

“We have something great to offer,” Emily Rosenbaum, executive director of the Coalition for a Better Acre, told The Eagle-Tribune yesterday. The organization was founded in 1982 and has completed several housing projects in Lowell and other Merrimack Valley communities, she said.

Rosenbaum pointed out that although the Coalition is a non-profit corporation, it will pay the town real estate taxes for the property if the proposal is approved. The corporation now pays Lowell and other cities and towns $537,000 per year in real estate taxes, Rosenbaum said.

Madeline Nash, director of real estate for the Coalition, said the commercial space will have one, two or three stores. The rents for the two- and three-bedroom apartments will vary from $900 to $1,300 per month, she said.

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