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Council Will Take Up Loan Order for LHS Land Taking

September 24, 2018

LOWELL -- The $2.6 million loan order for the city to acquire 75 Arcand Drive by eminent-domain for the high school project, relocating six well-established medical offices, is heading in front of the City Council.

On Tuesday’s agenda, the loan order is listed under “Orders From The City Manager.”

The eminent-domain land acquisition order requires a two-thirds vote, or six of the nine Lowell city councilors. That’s expected with seven of the councilors campaigning as downtown high school supporters.

This vote is necessary for the high school project, according to Massachusetts School Building Authority Executive Director John McCarthy. In the board’s action letter to Lowell in June, McCarthy stressed that MSBA’s vote to proceed into schematic design was, “contingent upon the city gaining full ownership, control, and exclusive use of the entire site, including the adjacent property by eminent domain.”

The state will not compensate the costs associated with the eminent-domain land taking and the relocation of the affected tenants.

Funding for this will come from the city, specifically via bonds.

There are five dental practices and one optometry practice at 75 Arcand Drive.

The owners of the medical building can challenge the $2.6 million assessment from the city, resulting in litigation, but that will not stop the high school process, City Manager Eileen Donoghue has said.

The city solicitor recently sent a letter to the attorney for the doctors with the city’s $2.6 million offer.

It was recently appraised at that figure, according to City Solicitor Christine O’Connor.

According to the city’s database, the current assessment of 75 Arcand Drive is $947,400: a building value of $705,900, and a land value of $241,500. The two-story office building sits on a 13,743-square-foot property.

The attorney for the doctors, Peter Flynn, recently told The Sun that his numbers are considerably higher than the $2.6 million offer -- in addition to the $3.5 million to $4.5 million estimate for relocation costs. He declined to elaborate on his numbers.

That relocation estimate is from the working relocation draft plan for the Lowell High School project, prepared by Peter W. Sleeper Associates in Arlington. That’s based on experience with similar relocation programs and these types of businesses, the plan reads.

The relocation draft plan lists nearly two dozen properties for lease across Lowell.

None of them are suitable for the six doctors, Flynn said last week.

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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