The plan to construct more of a “lifestyle center,” with a mix of residences, retail outlets and office space, instead of a megamall in South Tewksbury appears to be a sound business decision.
The retreat from building a megamall in South Tewksbury was expected once Simon Property Group — which owns Pheasant Lane Mall, Burlington Mall and the Mall at Rockingham Park — purchased the struggling Mills Corp. Why would the company create competition for itself?
But the more important part of the plan for the area — the new I-93 interchange at the junction of Andover, Tewksbury and Wilmington — is moving ahead.
The promise of $2.4 million in state support now opens the door for the federal government to release another $9 million for the $55 million project.
The interchange will serve to revitalize the area by attracting new companies and allowing existing businesses to grow.
Robert Halpin, president of the Merrimack Valley Economic Development Council, hopes to see the design and environmental work for the new interchange begin this month.
This project offers enormous economic opportunity for the area. It promises to bring in jobs in retail, manufacturing, hospitality, food service and biotechnology.
“Lifestyle centers” are becoming increasingly popular, with their mix of homes, offices, stores and recreational facilities. Part of the attraction is that people can live, work and play without having to get in a car. It is considered a huge benefit for people accustomed to commuting 30 to 60 minutes each way to work and it is a convenience for elderly residents, some of whom no longer drive or don’t like to drive at night.