The Mill Revitalization District
Case Study

Lawrence's mills.
Lawrence's mills provided the basis for its once thriving industrial economy
Wood Mill,
Lawrence, MA


Located in Northeastern Massachusetts, Lawrence is among the first planned industrial communities in the United States. Businesses and workers flocked to the City in 1845 as Lawrence built a new dam, an extensive canal system, and massive mill buildings to support an industrial economy. Lawrence quickly became second only to Boston in terms of output of manufactured goods.

The City is proud of its storied industrial past, as well as its heritage of a working class, immigrant population. Lawrence has continued a tradition of welcoming a diverse, international population with newcomers from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Vietnam, and Cambodia. With a population of 70,000 residents and a plethora of underutilized downtown mill buildings, the City is ripe with redevelopment opportunities.

The Wood Mill.
The Wood Mill resembles a horizontal syscraper
Source: Monarch on the Merrimack

Built in 1906, the Wood Mill is located in downtown Lawrence directly along the Merrimack River. Being almost 1/3 of a mile long and containing over 1.3 million square feet, it is one the largest Mill buildings in the world. The straight and narrow layout gives the building the appearance of a horizontal skyscraper. Redevelopment plans for the mill include a mixed use community made up of residential lofts, artist studios, retail, restaurants, and entertainment.


The $200 million project is entitled "Monarch on the Merrimack" and includes 600 luxury residential units, 90,000 square feet of shopping and dining, a spa, and a movie theater. Investment in the building's rehabilitation began in 2003 and four years later the first residential units are scheduled to open in January 2008. As an indication of the strong market for luxury residences in the area, the project's waiting list has nearly reached the buildings final build out capacity. The future tenant's attraction to the project has been based not only on the site's central location and high-end design, but also the project's commitment to "green building" practices.

drawing of building incorporating several green building practices.
Several green building practices have been integrated into the redevelopment
Source: Monarch on the Merrimack

The "Monarch" will be powered by a geothermal heating and cooling system instead of fossil fuels. Sixty shafts have been drilled 1,500 feet into the Earth to create one of the largest geothermal installations of its kind. Additional sustainable features of the building include reclaimed building materials, energy efficient windows and appliances, and low-consumption toilets. The redevelopment places a high priority on shared interior spaces that blur the line between the indoors and outdoors. Features include a garden lobby, an indoor waterfall, extensive indoor plantings, and rooftop terraces with gardens. The site's developer, Bob Ansin with MassInnovation, has previous experience in industrial conversion projects, such as the redevelopment of a former shoe factory in Fitchburg into a mixed-use development.