State Designates Haverhill to Receive Downtown Aid

Haverhill’s downtown has been selected as one of 10 “Districts in Development” by the Commonwealth Gateway Cities Transformative Development Initiative.

UMass-Lowell Chancellor Martin Meehan with Greater Haverhill Foundation Manager Ronald Trombley.

UMass-Lowell Chancellor Martin Meehan with Greater Haverhill Foundation Manager Ronald Trombley. Trombley was a key figure in assembling the Harbor Place project.

The designation means MassDevelopment, the state’s quasi-public lender and developer, will pour resources into the city’s central business district. Haverhill will receive “directed regional planning and implementation assistance to advance the city’s vision of connecting two ends of a vibrant downtown, creating an attractive, safe and diverse place to work, live, study, dine and shop,” announced state Rep. Brian S. Dempsey, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

“I am pleased that MassDevelopment has recognized the increased investment and focus on significant redevelopment in downtown Haverhill and has chosen to partner with our city,” Dempsey said. “This initiative will tie in with the Harbor Place project, and will strengthen existing development and also accelerate and spur new development opportunities.

MassDevelopment describes its role as working with private- and public-sector clients to stimulate economic growth by eliminating blight, preparing key sites for development, creating jobs and increasing the state’s housing supply. The designation augments the planned $68 million Harbor Place project. Demolition of the former Woolworth’s Department store and other buildings on the south side of Merrimack Street is slated to begin during the first week of January. Besides Haverhill, other Gateway Cities singled out for special treatment include Brockton, Holyoke, Lynn, New Bedford, Peabody, Pittsfield, Revere, Springfield and Worcester.

Mayor with Harbor Place drawing

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini admires architect’s rendering of Haverhill Place.

“This is yet another great move for our downtown. It allows us to leverage the Harbor Place project,” said Mayor James J. Fiorentini. “Our vision has always been that Harbor Place would be the start, not the end, of a revitalization of downtown. This district designation allows us to continue the Haverhill Renaissance.”

The establishment of the Gateway Cities Transformative Development Fund was first reported by WHAV Aug. 15 (See “Haverhill, Methuen Among Beneficiaries of Mass. Jobs Law.”

Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr., who is overseeing the Harbor Place project, said, the District in Development designation “will enable us to proceed with the next phase of downtown redevelopment and build on the catalyst of the exciting Harbor Place project.”

State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives and state Representatives Linda Dean Campbell and Diana Dizoglio also praised the move.