On Friday, October 5, the White House announced that President Barack Obama has signed a bill to authorize the transfer of federal land to the City of Lowell to help advance the city's signature economic development project. Congresswoman Niki Tsongas authored the bill.
H.R. 2240, legislation introduced by Congresswoman Tsongas, will enable the transfer of land owned by the National Park Service to the City Lowell. The bill permits the transfer of the National Park's surface parking lots on Dutton Street to the City of Lowell in exchange for an equal number of parking spaces in a new garage to be built adjacent to the existing parking lots.
"This legislation, which I developed in collaboration with the City of Lowell and the Lowell National Historical Park, will do one simple thing: it will allow the City and the Park to exchange this parking lot for an equal number of parking spaces in a nearby garage on Dutton Street. I know that this may seem like a minor detail when you look at the plans for the Hamilton Canal District, but, much like the Canal Street Bridge that recently opened, this exchange is another key piece in allowing this redevelopment to continue moving forward," said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas.
"This is a big win for folks in Lowell, it's all upside and no downside," said Senator John Kerry, who championed the bill in the Senate. "By converting a drab expanse of concrete, Lowell can make way for economic development and reinvestment in the Hamilton Canal area. A vibrant downtown will complement the historic charm of Lowell."
The land where the Dutton Street lots are located is needed for the development of the Hamilton Canal District, which will generate nearly 2 million square feet of private real estate development and create as many as 1600 new permanent jobs. Lowell National Historical Park was eager to provide the City of Lowell with the property but current federal law only allowed the National Park Service to receive additional land; it was not allowed to conduct an equal exchange. The legislation creates a way for the land exchange to take place.
"Last year I was approached by officials from the City of Lowell and Lowell National Historical Park who were seeking federal approval for a land exchange that was needed to further the development of the Hamilton Canal district, Lowell's most vital economic development initiative," said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. "We moved quickly to introduce legislation that would allow this mutually beneficial land swap to take place, and after passing the House in April, worked hard for full Congressional approval. Senator Kerry's partnership has allowed for a swift and successful resolution and I thank him for his work on this matter. I was proud to author this bill and am thrilled that in these partisan times it has passed in the House and Senate, was signed by the President and will help move the city ahead. This is another step in redeveloping the Hamilton Canal district into an innovative new neighborhood that will forever transform the gateway to downtown Lowell.