LAWRENCE – April 25, 2018 — Demolition began Tuesday at one of the two Showcase Cinema sites on Route 114, bringing down a building that has sat empty since the theater closed its doors there about a decade ago.
While Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera said he was “thrilled that it’s coming down,” the moment was also bittersweet.
“I’m a little bit heartbroken because I watched movies there as a kid,” he said. “But you know, I think in the long term it’s going to be a great development that’s going to be good for the neighborhood and good for the city.”
In the cinema’s place will rise a veterinary hospital, a Starbucks and a retail building, according to Ames Prentiss, CEO of Ethos Veterinary Health, a nationwide chain of animal hospitals that includes Bulger Veterinary Hospital in North Andover.
“We’re excited to be business owners in Lawrence,” Prentiss said.
Prentiss’ father bought that practice from veterinarian Ed Bulger in 1979. Father and son then worked to expand it to six hospitals across several states. That chain, InTown Veterinary Group, then merged with Ethos Veterinary Health and now operates a total of 14 hospitals.
Prentiss had been searching for a new location for Bulger Veterinary Hospital for years to help handle its growing practice.
With construction of the new building, Bulger’s North Andover location will close and its employees will move to Lawrence. It will continue offering services including primary care, annual exams and vaccinations, and a 24-hour emergency room.
Prentiss hopes to have the new veterinary hospital operating by the end of this year or early next year.
“I think that’s really the primary focus is to get the hospital built and get into a new facility so everyone can continue to take care of pets in the Merrimack Valley at the level we’re accustomed to,” Prentiss said.
Prentiss said a lease has also been signed with Starbucks, and that they have received zoning board approval to operate a drive-thru.
“We hope to have that open in a similar timeframe as well,” he said.
Prentiss is planning a third retail building at the location with approximately 6,500 square feet, but said he has not identified any tenants for it yet.
When it was originally pitched to the city, those involved had hoped to move ahead with construction last year and have the veterinary hospital up and running in early 2018.
“Planning took longer than we expected,” Prentiss said, adding that the city’s been “great to work with” and that it was more on them “as developers to kind of get everything figured out in a timely fashion.”
The project was initially billed at about $4.2 million to build. However, Prentiss said the project is expected to exceed that estimate, projected now to be more than $5 million.
Source: Eagle Tribune
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