Downtown Developer Buys Former Winter St. School for Apts.

The former Winter Street School, 165 Winter Street, has been purchased by one of the groups involved in redevelopment of a block of Merrimack Street buildings.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini announced the real estate closing took place Dec. 31,  and netted the City $303,250 in return. The property was acquired by 165 Winter Street Apartments, LLC, part of the development arm of the Planning Office for Urban Affairs (POUA), Boston. POUA is one of the partners involved in the development of Harbor Place on Merrimack Street. The group also restored the Hayes Building on Granite Street. The former school will become 12 units of affordable housing in this Lower Acre neighborhood.

“I’m thrilled to get this highly-visible vacant property back on the tax rolls and off the backs of the City’s taxpayers,” stated Mayor Fiorentini. “If this project resembles anything like the Hayes Building, it will help expedite the ongoing restoration of Winter Street while providing additional quality, affordable rental housing to the Lower Acre,” the mayor said.

Located next to St. James Church on the corner of Cottage Street, the school was built after the Civil War and educated thousands of Haverhill residents until the mid-1970s. The city subsequently leased the building to Career Resources Corporation for more than 32 years. When Career Resources located to its new facility in Ward Hill, the City was left with an aging, blighted vacant property, Fiorentini said Friday.

The development team received more than $750,000 in Historic Tax Credits from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office, in addition to funds from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, DHCD’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency and federal HOME funds through the North Shore HOME Consortium and the City of Haverhill. Construction is expected to start Jan. 5 and will take most of 2015 to complete. Many historical features of the building will be preserved as part of the renovation.

The City used its federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to undertake a successful environmental cleanup at the site prior to closing.