Editor, Townsman:

As a member of the Historic Mill District Task Force, I want to share how our work has focused on preserving the neighborhood context and the character of future development in the Historic Mill District. Public conversations have been of primary importance throughout the process. This continues to be true as Town Meeting votes this spring to authorize sale of the Old Town Yard.

The Historic Mill District encompasses a portion of the National Register of Historic Places known as the Andover Village Industrial District. This area includes 19th century brick mills, former railroad structures and clapboard and shingle buildings once used to house factory workers and other tradespeople. Moving forward, the community has clearly expressed a desire that the Historic Mill District be developed for mixed use, including housing, retail, offices, cultural spaces, recreation and open space.

The Request for Proposal (RFP) guiding redevelopment of the Old Town Yard seeks to protect the existing character of the mill district. Under the express terms of the RFP, new development should complement, enhance and be anchored within the context of the district. The RFP states that the "historic mill buildings create a strong aesthetic fabric and architectural style .... The Town seeks a development that includes an outstanding design with iconic and memorable features and character.”

Design guidelines and the recently completed place-making plan were developed to keep the keystone historic buildings in focus, create pedestrian connections to the Shawsheen River and downtown, and improve commuter access to the MBTA.

In the future, during the permitting of any proposed development, Andover’s Design Review Board will emphasize appropriate building scale, massing and use of complementary materials that blend with the existing historic architecture.

We believe this approach will successfully revitalize the Historic Mill District in a manner that respects the character of this important part of Andover.

KAREN HERMAN

Historic Mill District Task Force

Andover Preservation Commission chair

 

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