Groundbreaking ceremonies took place Tuesday morning to mark the launch of the $68 million Harbor Place development in downtown Haverhill. Governor Deval Patrick was on hand to formally pledge $10.3 million to public portions of the project.
Harbor Place, a commercial building proposed to replace the vacant Woolworth’s Department store and other buildings, is 80 percent leased with UMass—Lowell taking two floors, Pentucket Bank taking a floor for its executive offices and HC Media taking a small portion of the first floor for a satellite recording studio. The planned building has been reduced to four stories from the originally envisioned seven, according to Ronald Trombley, manager of the Greater Haverhill Foundation, a project partner.
The ceremony took place under a tent in front of the Herbert H. Goecke Memorial Parking Deck—across the street from the project site. Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini credited state Rep. Brian S. Dempsey, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Governor Deval Patrick for making the project possible.
Fiorentini said Dempsey was an early supporter of the project, dating back to a walk over the Basiliere Bridge two years ago.
The mayor said earlier efforts to redevelop the south side of Merrimack Street failed because of the lack of public sector money.
“It’s going to be an amazing transformation,” said Lisa B. Alberghini, president of the Planning Office for Urban Affairs, another project partner. She said Bank of America is providing a $25 million construction loan and $13 million in equity financing through the purchase of tax credits, Haverhill Bank and Pentucket Bank are providing additional financing.
The developer is a consortium comprised of the Boston Archdiocese’s Planning Office for Urban Affairs, Greater Haverhill Foundation and Boston attorney Frank Giso III. The group owns a contiguous block of properties from the former Woolworth’s department store through the Ocasio Martial Arts building.
“Pentucket Bank’s senior management team and board of trustees have reviewed the proposed plans for this transformative downtown Haverhill project and have determined that leasing space at One Harbor Place will solidify our long term commitment to the residents of Haverhill and the revitalization of the downtown,” said Scott D. Cote, president and CEO of Pentucket Bank in a press release. Cote said the bank is at capacity in their headquarters building across the street.
Tonight, the Haverhill City Council the council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the mayor’s requests to submit documents to the Commonwealth for a designated Urban Center Housing zone and a Tax Increment Financing plan for Harbor Place. The council is also being asked to create additional parking spaces at the Haverhill Place parking lot and along the south side of Bailey Boulevard.
The development group previously purchased Herman Ocasio’s True Martial Arts building, 42-50 Merrimack St.; Newman’s Discount Furniture and Mattresses, 28-40 Merrimack St.; the former Woolworth Building, 2 Merrimack St.; Emerson Floor Covering building, 20-22 Merrimack St.
Remaining buildings believed to be under consideration for housing are North East Behavioral Health, 60 Merrimack St.; Angel Care Kids Therapy Center, 70 Merrimack St.; and the optometry offices of Dr. Frederic Rose, 72 Merrimack St.