Paying Attention! with Tom Duggan
By: Tom Duggan – Posted: February 13, 2009
The Lawrence Historical Commission voted Tuesday evening to approve the demolition of two buildings on Merrimack Street in Lawrence owned by Sal Lupol of Salvatore’s Restaurant, at Sal’s Riverwalk Properties, making way for a multi-million dollar development at the site which will include a retail strip mall and office space for business seeking to do business in the city.
Lupoli appeared before the board Tuesday night detailing the structural flaws and dangerous conditions of the two existing buildings on the west side of the current Riverwalk building. Lupoli and Lawrence Planning Director Mike Sweeney explained to the board that the conditions of the buildings were “dangerous to the health and safety of the citizens of Lawrence”.
Lupoli told the board that for historic reasons the demolition of the historic smoke stacks will be photographed and videotaped by professional engineers and that moving forward with phase two of the project will bring upwards of 2,000 jobs to the City of Lawrence.
“We are going to be raising three different structures, those structures will be transformed into new developments, with the demo of two of the three structures you will see two brand new structures going up. And, we are going to incorporate the old with the new using the materials on the existing site. But those new structures are going to create new jobs.”
“What you saw here today was the second phase, but the first step in that second phase of some exciting development that’s going to take place which will change the whole corridor on Merrimack Street forever,” Lupoli said in an exclusive interview with The Valley Patriot.
“Were talking about creating 1.2 million square feet of new development over there, creating over 2,000 new jobs.”
Lupoli says he has been working with city and state officials to make sure they proceeded “correctly” and revealed that he will be immediately looking for permits to begin demolition and start constructing new buildings whih he says will “transform the Merrimack Street area into a business and retail center in the region.”
“We’re going to go after this quickly,” Lupoli added. “We are applying for a demo permit as soon as the process is complete, and then we will diligently go after and start the development. We are going to take our time. The first step is to demo the building, start building a new retail strip plaza in the front of the building with a brand new look. Then, hopefully we can activate the rest of the phased project.”
Lupoli says that the demolition will take place in about 60-90 days and predicted that people will be able to start shopping at the new retail plaza by the end of 2009. It has been well documented that Sal Lupoli has spent more than $60 million of his own money in phase 1 of the project and is estimating to spend another $80 million in phase two.
“I am proud to say we have accomplished over a million feet of development in less than five years during a good climate in Lawrence and I stand committed to helping Lawrence grow and be the destination for jobs and businesses. I really believe that redevelopment in a city like Lawrence is critical.”
Lupoli has had little opposition to his project, though city council president Patrick Blanchette has quietly tried to kill the project, and a competing developer Chet Sidell, (who owns no property in Lawrence) publicly opposed Lupoli’s efforts to build a new retail plaza on the site. The Historical Commission took three separate votes on the demolition of the buildings and smoke stacks on the Riverwalk property. Lupoli received a unanimous vote on the first two demolition proposals with only Sarah Hanson, a developer herself, voting against the third.