For the first time since the city’s urban renewal program of the 1960s and 1970s, the city is poised to take private downtown land by eminent domain.
The order of taking on Tuesday’s Haverhill City Council agenda includes both temporary and permanent easements to support access to the $68 million Harbor Place project. The easements principally affect one of only two buildings between Main Street and the Landmark Building not purchased by developers. In exchange for easements for “utilities, pilings and other improvements,” the city is offering $10,000 to the owners of 60 Merrimack Street, which houses North East Behavioral Health.
“This taking does not include structures presently situated on the easement premises, but does include the right of the city to remove such structures whenever their removal shall be required for said easement purposes. This taking does include such trees and shrubs within the easement premises whose removal is necessary to carry out the purposes of the easements taken herein,” according to documents before city councilors.
D. R. Locke LLC, operated by Douglas R. Locke, 5 Middleton Road, Boxford, is listed as owner. Locke purchased the property for $3.1 million in 2007.
The council will also place on file for two weeks an ordinance providing patient drop-off/pickup zones for North East Behavioral Health and Angel Care Kids to protect the businesses during Harbor Place construction.
Two pages of the document before city council were not made available to the public. WHAV has requested copies of the missing pages.
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 developer is Merrimack Street Owner LLC, a consortium comprised of the Boston Archdiocese’s Planning Office for Urban Affairs, Greater Haverhill Foundation and Boston attorney Frank Giso III.