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LAWRENCE, MA-A $200-million redevelopment project is set to transform an aging mill building on the Merrimack River into the largest environmentally friendly residential development in New England, according to the company. MassInnovation, which is developing the project known as Monarch-on-the-Merrimack, plans to build 600 luxury residential lofts and six floors of retail space in the 1.3-million-sf building at 270 Merrimack St. across the street from the Lawrence station on the Haverhill commuter rail line.

“What’s so exciting, is that we’re bringing an old mill building back in a sustainable way that makes good business sense as well as good environmental sense,” says Bob Ansin, who bills himself as MassInnovation’s “chief vision officer.”

Ansin knows about old mills. He grew up working in his family’s mill in Fitchburg and is now transforming that property into a similar green complex complete with geothermal wells and solar panels. Both of those energy sources will also be used to cool and heat the residential and retail space at Monarch-on-the-Merrimack, which recently began construction.

Designed by noted Boston architects Finegold Alexander & Associates, the first phase of the project will turn 400,000 sf into 200 loft-style condos and 100,000 sf of retail space with underground parking by October 2007. The condominiums, ranging from 1,200 sf for a one-bedroom unit to 2,100 sf for a penthouse overlooking the Merrimack, will sell for between $299,000 and $600,000. The remainder of the project is expected to be completed in seven years.

Ansin says he already pre-sold about 40 of the units and has letters of intent from several businesses, including a bakery, movie theater, jazz club and café. When completed, the complex will also include a rooftop garden and a six-acre waterfront park, designed by Boston-based landscape architect Copley Wolff, who designed Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway. J. Calnan & Associates has been retained as construction manager on the project.

Considered one of Lawrence’s landmark buildings, the former factory, known as Wool Mill, was one of the largest mills in the world when it was built in 1905. About one-third of a mile long, the building contains nearly 30 acres under one roof and would be nearly twice as tall as Boston’s John Hancock Tower if it was vertical, the developer says.

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