In the late 90s the Acre DeMoulas Market Basket investment acted as the catalyst for a major City planning effort. The planning effort occurred over a 10-month period led by a 29-member Citizens Advisory Committee made up of representatives from a cross-section of residents, businesses, non-profit service agencies and City of Lowell planning staff. This effort led to the development of the Acre Urban Revitalization and Development Plan (PDF), the City's first urban renewal plan in over 20 years.
With extensive citizen participation, the Plan was approved by the Lowell City Council in June of 1999 and later by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), in January of 2000. The State delegation assisted the City in obtaining an Urban Revitalization and Development Grant (URDG) in the amount of $10,000,000 in 2002.
Prior to this award, the City committed $1 million and established a Capital Account for Plan implementation. Numerous partnerships were essential to the successful implementation of the Acre Plan, which is leveraging private investment and cooperation, City commitments, Federal and State grants, and non-profit efforts in transforming the Acre into a safe, inviting, and liveable neighborhood.
Kathryn Stoklosa Middle School Project
The Kathryn "Kay" Stoklosa Middle School Project is a cornerstone of the Acre Urban Revitalization and Development Plan. The former brownfield was redeveloped into a new 600+ student public middle school with outdoor activity areas.
The Stoklosa School project converted the heart of a neglected urban area into a vibrant new middle school where the surrounding grounds offer the City's residents an additional 1.72 acres of reclaimed open space in the form of active recreation areas, including some of the most heavily-used basketball courts in the City.
Over the past several years, numerous streetscape improvements in the Acre Plan area along the Cardinal O'Connell Parkway, Market Street, Fletcher Street, and Suffolk Street were completed. Funding for these projects was provided from an anonymous donor, who has continuously completed utility, lighting, and sidewalk improvements throughout the Acre Plan area over the past 8 years. The improvements have greatly enhanced the appearance of these streets, creating a safer, more livable neighborhood.
The Western Canal Walkway improvement project was completed in the spring of 2009. This project represents a $1.4 million investment in the construction of a new Western Canal Walkway from Dutton Street to Suffolk Street, extending the City's canal walkway system into the Acre neighborhood.
Funded with federal dollars through the Lowell National Historical Park and Urban Revitalization and Development Grant (URDG) dollars, the Western Canal Walkway provides a safe pedestrian connection from this section of the Acre neighborhood to Lowell's continuously expanding canal walkway network.