By Shawn Regan
---- — HAVERHILL — There’s new activity and hope around the empty building in the Haverhill Commons retail park off Route 97 that had housed the Lowe’s Home Improvement store until it closed in October 2011.
William Pillsbury, the city’s economic development director, said the owner of the building, KGI Properties of Providence, has asked the city to modify zoning for the property to allow a manufacturing firm there.
Pillsbury said City Council will briefly take up the matter at tomorrow night’s meeting for the purpose of scheduling a public hearing June 11 to consider the zoning change. The Planning Board has already endorsed the change, he said.
There are several manufacturing companies near the former Lowe’s store on Computer Drive and Research Drive — including Southwick Apparel and Adamson Industries — but the city changed the zoning in the retail park before Lowe’s and Target moved there in 2007 to preclude manufacturers.
Pillsbury said there’s also an entity interested in leasing the former Lowe’s building for a short-term use, but that he could not discuss that proposal at this time.
“There are short-term and long-term uses being discussed,” Pillsbury said. “The proposed zoning change will given the owners more options to get something done and get someone in there.”
In October 2011, Lowes issued a press release that it was closing 20 under-performing stores in 15 states and cutting 1,950 jobs in an effort to focus on more profitable locations. Twenty stores were abruptly shuttered, including the Lowe’s in Haverhill, which opened in 2007 and employed 100 people.