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April 7, 2008

Focus: Ten projects that promise new business, jobs and revenues

From condos and artist lofts to corporate and commercial space, millions if not billions of dollars worth of economic development projects are underway or on the horizon for the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hamsphire. Developers, planners and others interviewed for this section identified 10 local projects that promise new business opportunities, jobs and tax revenue for the region.

1. Mothballed mills come back to life

The Lawrence textile mills that once hummed with activity and enriched the region are coming back to life, reincarnated as housing, offices, retail space and restaurants.

Leading the latest wave of conversions was entrepreneur and pizza magnate Sal Lupoli, whose Salvatore's Italian Restaurant and function hall turns 3 this year. Lupoli's Riverwalk complex also houses a day-care facility, family entertainment centers, the Merrimack Valley Federal Credit Union, and a host of nonprofit and medical service agencies.

Just up Merrimack Street, developer Robert Ansin continues work on the Monarch on the Merrimack project, converting the old Wood Mill to high-end condominiums.

The latest mill development project proposed for Lawrence continues the trend on the other side of the river.

Dubbed Union Crossing, it is a mix of commercial, retail and residential space in what is now the Southwick Clothing mill complex off Island Street and the Duck Mill on Union Street.

The $75 million project would be done in three phases.

The first would convert the Southwick mill complex from its current use as a manufacturer of high-end suits for companies like Brooks Brothers into several uses. Southwick plans to move to another facility in the Merrimack Valley, and the space it now occupies in three buildings would be broken up.

The building closest to Union Street, which is being purchased by brothers Luis and Juan Yepez, will be converted to a commercial and retail complex.

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