HAVERHILL — UMass Lowell plans to open its first-ever satellite campus in downtown Haverhill next fall.
College officials are looking for 10,000 square feet of office space they can use for six to eight “smart classrooms’’ and administrative offices for the satellite spot, which will focus on continuing education, University Chancellor Martin Meehan told The Daily News’ sister paper, The Eagle-Tribune.
Talk of opening a UMass Lowell campus in Haverhill has swirled for months, after Meehan appeared at a Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce event earlier this year and said the move was being considered. At that time, he said UMass Lowell was discussing a partnership with Northern Essex Community College, which has its main campus in Haverhill.
Meehan said the satellite campus will become a reality with help from state Rep. Brian Dempsey, D-Haverhill, who is a UMass Lowell alumnus and chairman of the House Ways and Means committee. Money for the campus is included in the state’s fiscal year 2013 budget, officials said.
Northern Essex Community College is “the highest feeder school to UMass Lowell,” Meehan said. Of the 16,000 students who attend UMass Lowell, more than 2,000 come from the Haverhill area, he said.
“The long and short of it is we are delighted we will have a presence in the city of Haverhill,” Meehan said. “A presence in Haverhill will help us become ever more accessible.”
Dempsey called the satellite campus, expected to open in September 2013, a “tremendous opportunity” for the city’s downtown.
“There’s an energy that’s happening in downtown Haverhill,’’ he said. “This can be a piece of that.’’
In the last several years, hundreds of condos and apartments have moved into formerly vacant shoe factory buildings in the downtown, and new restaurants and shops have also settled there.
It’s unclear where the satellite campus will be housed. Meehan said officials don’t have a site in mind yet and are looking to rent space. Requests for proposals will be sought, allowing property owners to offer their buildings. Once the campus finds a home, Meehan said he expects it will boost economic activity in the area. As an example, he pointed to college students who will be in the area eating at local restaurants and sub shops.