Artistic residents only

By the time Lowell’s $64-million Appleton Mills renovation project is complete in April 2011, its 130 affordable loft-style apartments will already be full of artistic occupants — a lottery-style application process is already underway.

“We started the process now because we want to make sure that the applications are from genuine artists and not people who suddenly became artists overnight,” says Abby Goldenfarb, project manager for developers Trinity Financial.

The Appleton Manufacturing Company built Appleton Mills in 1902 as a textile mill. It was also a shoe factory, but like much of the northwest industrial complex, it fell into disrepair as manufacturing waned in Massachusetts.

Now, the intention is to fill Appleton Mills entirely with artists. But applicants don’t have to earn their living by artistic means, as is usually the case with artist-friendly developments. “It could be, say, a teacher with an artistic hobby. As long as they show a strong commitment to their art, that’s fine,” says Goldenfarb.

All sorts of artists, including musicians and writers, will be considered, as long as they are on a reduced income.

Appleton Mills is the first phase of Lowell’s massive $800-million Hamilton Canal redevelopment. Starting the project with an income-restricted building isn’t entirely philanthropic, though. The idea is to bring in artists to breathe life into the area.

“There are lots of studies that have proven the economic impact that creative people bring when they move into a neighborhood,” agrees Goldenfarb. “That’s what we’re hoping for with this project.”

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