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City Files ‘Order of Taking’

November 15, 2018

LOWELL -- A week after the City Council voted to take 75 Arcand Drive by eminent domain for the high-school project, a member of the city’s Law Department filed an “Order of Taking” at the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds.

The formal legal document, recorded at 11:26 a.m. on Tuesday, gives the city ownership of the 62,293-square-foot downtown property -- which has six medical offices.

“For all intensive purposes, it’s over,” Mayor Bill Samaras said. “They (doctors) can sue if they wish to, but as far as I’m concerned, we own that property.”

Last month, the council approved a $2.6 million loan order to pay for the property.

The owners of the medical building can challenge that price assessment in court, but that will not stop the high school process, Samaras said.

The city has to comply with the schedule set by the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The city has to file the land-taking with the state by February.

The state will not compensate the costs associated with the land-taking or the relocation of the affected tenants. Funding for this will come from the city, specifically via bonds.

City Councilor Rodney Elliott was one of the two councilors who voted against the land taking.

“I’ve always had concerns about taking viable businesses out of downtown,” he said Wednesday. “That’s never a good idea in my opinion. And the cost of this project is just becoming unaffordable. It’s a major concern moving forward.”

Another step in the process includes the relocation plan for the six doctors who are getting displaced. The state has approved the plan.

However, questions remain about where the doctors will end up, as well as how much the relocation will cost.

The estimated relocation costs are in the $4 million range, according to the city’s consultant. The doctors’ consultant is estimating around $6 million.

In the city’s relocation plan, nearly two-dozen potential properties to relocate the doctors were listed. The doctor’s lawyer, Peter Flynn, has said the sites the city listed are not suitable.

The doctors at 75 Arcand Drive are: Dr. Evan Coravos, Dr. Stephen Reichheld, Dr. Christopher Ross, Dr. Michael Szarek, Dr. Aaron Watman and Dr. George Montminy.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.

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