AP NEWS

Former UML West Campus Goes to Auction

March 23, 2019

CHELMSFORD -- The former UMass Lowell West Campus should soon have a new owner.

The 34-acre site at 255 Princeton Road will be auctioned off to the highest bidder at a public auction scheduled for Friday, April 5 at 12 p.m. at the town offices at 50 Billerica Road.

The state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance is facilitating the sale with The Zekos Group Auctioneers, according to a Zekos Group press release calling the site “an ideal residential development opportunity.”

“We are pleased to offer this property to the highest bidder in a transparent process and encourage spirited participation,” Zekos Group President Paul T. Zekos said in a statement.

Town Manager Paul Cohen said the town has been contacted by a number of interested developers that he expects will participate in the auction.

The property, originally the Middlesex County Training School in the late 1800s, has changed hands many times over the years. In 1984, Wang Laboratories donated it to the state, including a 30-year restriction that the land only be used for educational purposes. It served as the site of the UML Graduate School of Education from 1985 to 2003, when the university decided to move the school to its South Campus in Lowell to be closer to other academic programs and resources.

In more recent years, the property has fallen into disrepair. One of its five buildings was destroyed in a 2013 fire and three other buildings were slated to be demolished with funds from a 2014 state Senate infrastructure bond bill, but the money was never appropriated. The last occupied building was vacated by a state Department of Youth Services-run juvenile detention center about five years ago.

After the use restriction expired in 2014, the university and the town engaged in talks about the property’s future.

The UMass Lowell West Campus Planning Committee, established by the town to study the property and potential uses, put forward a number of suggestions, including senior living, assisted living and moderate-income housing organized as villas or cottages, garden-style condos or apartments. The committee also asked that recreation opportunities and public open space be included for residents.

Special legislation entered by state Rep. Tom Golden, passed as part of the Acts of 2018, will allow UMass Lowell to recoup the sales proceeds of the auction. Under the legislation, the university can use the funds for capital repairs and improvements to its other facilities, as well as costs associated with disposition of the property, including appraisals, surveys and deeds, deed and site preparation.

To qualify for the bid, bidders will be required to present identification and a deposit in the form of a treasurer’s, cashier’s or certified bank check.

Extensive information about the auction and the property is available at www.zekosgroup.com . Those interested in the property can also call 508-842-9000 with questions.

Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alana.lowellsun or on Twitter @alanamelanson.