Lawrence struggles despite development gains

Lawrence struggles despite development gains

The financial outlook for the city of Lawrence remains dour despite a slate of developments that are expected to revitalize swaths of land and add some 500 full-time jobs over the next few years.

A recent report by Moody’s Investors Service indicated that Lawrence’s $3.1 billion tax base will see continued pressure amid high foreclosures, above-average unemployment (15.6 percent) and falling home prices (assessed values fell 14.4 percent in 2010). Roughly 80 percent of the city’s real estate is classified as residential.

Still, all property classes are being affected by the downturn. Moody’s said the city’s equalized value — the assessed value of all property classes in a given municipality — has dropped by 24 percent since 2009

A silver lining to the city’s financial plight has been the steady rehabilitation of vacant and under-utilized commercial properties. Moody’s said $1 million in new tax revenue has been added to its fiscal 2011 budget, around the same amount ($1.18 million) that was added the prior year.

In addition, J.B.S. Industries, a wholesale maker and seller of baked goods, is expected to invest $12.5 million in new facilities and jobs. Those efforts are expected to boost local employment by between 250 and 300 positions over the next three years. Another development effort, the rehabilitation of a former 400,000 square foot textile mill, also is expected to add 200 permanent jobs once complete. The mixed-use development, known as Union Crossing, is designed to feature rental housing as well as retail and office space. The project is being managed by Lawrence Community Works.

Read more: Lawrence struggles despite development gains | Boston Business Journal

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