Historic Mill District

Historic Mill District Design Guidelines

Adopted February 13, 2018 by the Andover Planning Board

Historic Mill District Design Guidelines

These Design Guidelines address the design of new buildings within Andover’s Historic Mill District. New development, if not done well, has the potential to undermine the very quality of place that makes Andover attractive. Design Guidelines address this. At the same time, if design guidelines are too restrictive, they have the potential to thwart redevelopment efforts by lengthening the review process, frustrating constituents and scaring away potential developers. Finding the right balance of insights and ideas without being too prescriptive lies at the essence of what constitutes a well-crafted set of design guidelines.  

Andover’s downtown is poised for smart growth. There is a palpable desire to capitalize on the unique characteristics of its historic resources and the advantages of living and working in a walkable, transit-oriented district. While much of the district is already built out, an emphasis on adaptive reuse will bring existing buildings into more productive use and add vibrancy to the Town. Unfortunately, the center of the district is also the area that has the least in common with the physical characteristics of Andover that people cherish. Unsafe street intersections, a prevalence of surface parking and low density, suburban structures signal a preference for car-dependent uses. Establishing guidelines that direct investment to areas that need them most is both timely and essential for Andover to thrive.

Design Guidelines Meeting #3 - October 18, 2017

Public Meeting # 2 - July 13, 2017 

Public Meeting # 1 - May 18, 2017

At Town Meeting in May of 2015, Andover voters overwhelming approved the creation of the Historic Mill District (HMD).  This new zoning district encompasses nearly one hundred (100) acres between Main Street, Dundee Park, the Shawsheen River and Whole Foods Grocery Store.  The purpose of the HMD is to encourage smart growth development in proximity to Andover’s regional transit station by fostering a range of housing opportunities within mixed-use development projects.  

In order to help guide Andover’s Vision for future development within the HMD, the new bylaw allows for the development of design guidelines that are intended to help preserve and augment the HMD’s architectural qualities, historic character, and scale.  Seeking to build off the momentum and support of Town Meeting voters, the Board of Selectmen have established the Historic Mill District Task Force (Fall 2016), to assist in the development of design guidelines. 

On January 26, 2017, the Town of Andover, under the leadership of the HMD Task Force, made available an RFP for selection of an architecture and urban design firm to assist the Town in developing design guidelines for the HMD. The goal of the design guidelines are to preserve and augment the Historic Mill District’s architectural qualities, historic character and pedestrian scale.  
Following selection of a consultant in early March, the Task Force plans to host a series of community conversations to engage area residents, businesses and community leaders as to their thoughts for the district. The public meetings are targeted for late March/early April with notice being available on the Town website and Andover Townsman. 

On March 24, 2017, the Town of Andover, under the leadership of the Historic Mill District (HMD) Task Force, selected Gamble Associates, an architecture and urban design firm in Cambridge, MA, to help develop the design guidelines for the HMD. To date the Town has held three formal community engagement meetings in May, July and October 2018 with Gamble Associates at Memorial Hall Library. 

The Andover Planning Board adopted the Historic Mill District Design Guidelines on February 13, 2018.