City Expects Little Traffic Impact from Woolworth’s Demolition

Demolition of several downtown blocks to make way for Harbor Place will not require any Merrimack Street lane closures or one-way traffic, says the city’s economic development chief.

Demolition of several blocks of buildings, beginning at the former Woolworth’s department store, will largely take place from the Wall Street side of the property, Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr. told WHAV Friday.

“There will be minimal impact on Merrimack Street,” he said. While the sidewalk on the Bridge Street side of Woolworth’s will be closed to pedestrians, he said, everyone agreed it was important to keep open Merrimack Street’s right turn lane into Bradford.

Pillsbury said demolition is scheduled to take place in early January. Meanwhile, the developer plans to begin removing any potential hazardous wastes, such as asbestos, during the week of Nov. 24. The abatement process involves notifying the state Department of Environmental Protection and receiving an “internal demolition” permit from the Haverhill building inspector. Actual construction of the $68 million project will likely begin next March or April, he said.

UMass—Lowell is taking two floors and Pentucket Bank will take one floor for its executive offices. A restaurant is being sought for the ground floor. The planned building was reduced to four stories from the originally envisioned seven, according to Ronald Trombley, manager of the Greater Haverhill Foundation, a project partner. The state has pledged $10.3 million to public portions of the project.

There have been regular meetings with the contractor and police and fire departments, Pillsbury said. Next month, Pillsbury said he hopes to have a public meeting to help keep business owners and residents up to date.

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.