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Market Basket Covets Parcel

August 9, 2018

The proposal for a new Market Basket location is headed to a Planning Board hearing later this month. Under the proposal, JJ Boomers, at far left, would remain and get a new parking lot. SUN/Rick Sobey Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

LOWELL -- A proposal for a 71,100-square-foot Market Basket supermarket on Pawtucket Boulevard, across the Rourke Bridge from one of the company’s oldest stores, will be reviewed by city officials this month.

The proposed retail development, at 677 and 705 Pawtucket Blvd., at the intersection with Old Ferry Road, is the site of a former drive-in theater. Market Basket has owned the property for several years.

The empty lot at 677 Pawtucket had mounds of dirt and long grass Wednesday morning.

DSM Realty, an arm of the Market Basket grocery chain, will appear before the Planning Board on Aug. 20. The applicant is seeking a site-plan review, special permit and variance. The plan also will need approval from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

The redevelopment of the 14-acre site would include a 71,100-square-foot supermarket with a 12,400-square-foot general retail space.

The restaurant on the southern portion of the site, JJ Boomers, will continue operating.

The project will include ancillary landscape, parking, stormwater management and utility improvements. Market Basket also plans to reconstruct the parking lot for JJ Boomers at the corner of the intersection.

There will be a 437-space parking lot for the proposed Market Basket and retail space. Landscaping will include the planting of deciduous and evergreen trees, shrub beds, and perennial and ornamental grass.

The proposed location is just a short distance across the Rourke Bridge from the Market Basket on Wood Street, directly across the Merrimack River. A Market Basket official could not be immediately reached for comment about plans for that store, which is one of the chain’s older and smaller locations. The company has frequently replaced such locations with larger ones, as it did in Westford several years ago.

The Lowell Drive-In Theater once stood at the new proposed site. It opened in 1954 with a capacity for 1,100 cars, according to the website Cinema Treasures. The theater closed about 1980.

Market Basket’s DSM Realty bought the now-vacant site, which has wide frontage along Old Ferry Road and some on Pawtucket Boulevard, in 1977.

The proposal has been reviewed in accordance with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act. The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs issued a certificate, stating that the Final Environmental Impact Report “adequately and properly complies with MEPA and its implementing regulations.”

The southern portion of the Pawtucketville site is located within a designated AE Zone, areas subject to inundation by the 1-percent-annual-chance flood event associated with the Merrimack River, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Flood Insurance Rate Map for Middlesex County.

The project will implement and maintain erosion and sedimentation controls in accordance with the stormwater pollution prevention plan. It will use flood-resistant and flood-protected building materials, and will locate all critical infrastructure, such as transformers and an emergency generator, 3 feet above the current 100-year flood plain.

The applicant has also committed to several roadway improvements, committing money to the city to design and implement safety and pedestrian accommodations at the Rourke Bridge; new sidewalks; pedestrian and bicycle improvements; bike racks near the supermarket entrance; coordination with the LRTA for a bus stop; and more.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.

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