“Large-scale, mixed-use transformation” envisioned for 10-acre parcel located between LeLacheur Park and Tsongas Center

An aerial view of the UML campus and Merrimack River


Contact for media: John Hoey, UMass, 508-264-5920, jhoey@umassp.edu

BOSTON – The UMass Building Authority (UMBA) today announced that after a comprehensive selection process, it is working with a team led by GMH Communities toward the development of approximately 10 acres of land with improvements, consisting of five parcels on UMass Lowell’s East Campus. Details of this collaboration are in the process of being finalized.

The property is located along the Merrimack River between two major local attractions, the 7,800-seat Tsongas Center and 5,000-seat LeLacheur Park baseball stadium. Both facilities are the home to NCAA Division I teams.

Primed for a one million square foot, mixed-use transformation in conjunction with UMass Lowell, the property is located just 30 miles north of Boston. Potential uses include commercial office/R&D, hospitality, student housing, residential and retail. A portion of the site is located within a federally designated Opportunity Zone, which provides investors with the ability to pursue attractive tax benefits.

“The reimagining of this portion of the East Campus will accelerate the ascendance of UMass Lowell as a center of innovation, learning, and economic opportunity,” UMass President Marty Meehan said. “I’m excited to see what emerges from what I know will be a thoughtful, innovative and inclusive process.”

“I’m confident that in the years ahead, this mixed-use development will transform the way students, faculty, business partners and community members view and interact with UMass Lowell,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Julie Chen. “Our students and alumni already know the impact of hands-on learning to accelerate their career trajectories. This project will dramatically scale up these opportunities for students by co-locating on our campus many of our business, non-profit and research partners offering co-ops, internships and, ultimately, jobs.”

“This initiative is great example of the ability of UMass to promote smart, effective, high quality economic development that benefits communities while strengthening learning experiences for students,” added UMass Board of Trustees Chair Stephen Karam.

“This project offers an exceptional opportunity to reinvent a prime component of the East Campus, and we look forward to the concepts that GMH Communities will develop,” UMass Building Authority Chair Mary Burns said.

“The development of UMass Lowell’s East Campus is a fantastic opportunity to leverage the university as a source of economic development and job creation for the city of Lowell and its residents,” said Lowell City Manager Tom Golden.

While a master planning process has not yet begun, initial proposals by GMH Communities suggest a new research building for business co-location with some first-floor retail, new student housing to eventually replace aging residence halls and the creation of an East Campus Main Street and plaza.

“We could not be more excited to enter into this partnership with UMass Lowell and bring our expertise to delivering an iconic master planned development to the university’s East Campus,” said Gary Holloway Jr., CEO and President of GMH Communities. “Our communities are not simply apartments, student housing, or a research building, but rather we are striving to cultivate a campus lifestyle that is responsive to the University’s needs. The foundation of our approach and integrated strategy is rooted in collaboration, continual alignment, and the ability to tailor our communities to meet these needs in an engaging way. We look forward to working together with UMass Lowell to maximize this opportunity and deliver a series of world-class developments that strengthen and contribute to the continued growth of the University.”   

UMass officials all shared that they were impressed with the GMH Communities’ team track record of working with university partners to assemble mixed-use developments similar to what UMass Lowell envisions for its East Campus.  

The selection of GMH Communities followed a five-month process that attracted multiple proposals from nationally acclaimed developers, illustrating the potential of the property to attract investment. UMass officials said they anticipate a transparent and inclusive partnership process to shape the project and realize its potential.

About the University of Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts is a world-class public research university system committed to advancing knowledge and transforming lives. UMass is renowned for the quality of its academic programs, the scope and impact of its research, and the strength of its public service mission. With four comprehensive campuses, a world-class medical school and a mission-driven law school, UMass educates 74,000 students, has more than half a million alumni, conducts $752 million in annual research, and is responsible for $7.5 billion in economic impact every year. The university system comprises UMass Amherst, UMass Boston, UMass Dartmouth, UMass Lowell, UMass Chan Medical School in Worcester and the UMass School of Law in Dartmouth. The university is one of the largest employers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

About the UMass Building Authority

The UMass Building Authority (UMBA) is a distinct, public organization established by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1960. Its mission is to build and renovate facilities on the University of Massachusetts campuses that could be financed from student fees and charges. The Authority borrows funds by issuing tax-exempt bonds.  By statute, the Authority has 11 members appointed by the Governor. Five of these members are Trustees of the University of Massachusetts. Two of the six non-trustee Members must be graduates of the University.

About UMass Lowell

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe. 

About the developer

GMH Communities is a dynamic real estate company specializing in the acquisition, development, and management of exceptional living communities throughout the United States. GMH has demonstrated proven expertise in identifying real estate opportunities, executing our strategic approach and driving returns. We offer creativity that looks beyond standard formulas to devise innovative concepts and workable solutions. Since 1985 this philosophy has led to tremendous growth for GMH resulting in the investment in over 300 properties representing more than $8.5 billion of gross asset value across all major property types.