Council Approves Majority Low-Income Housing Project

Unanimous support from the Haverhill city council Tuesday night on plans to renovate an empty Essex Street mill building into 62 housing units with ground-level commercial space.

Councilors voted 9-0 to grant a permit to Affordable Housing and Services Collaborative Inc., Braintree. It has proposed a Chapter 40-R residential development of affordable, mixed income and mixed use units at the Chen building, 98-112 Essex St. Of the 62 apartments, 55 units would be classified as affordable units. The site is within the “Downtown Smart Growth Overlay District.” According to company representatives, the project will be known as “98 Essex.”

Councilor William Macek said the project would be a “great fit for the downtown.”

“We’re actually replacing that center tooth that has been missing for so long. It will give us the better look that we need for completion. There are a couple other projects that are also going to be getting started that we’ve already permitted. And were moving quite nicely finally, after a 10-12 year attempt of getting the renovation totally completed, the renaissance that’s going on downtown,” Macek said.

Council President John A. Michitson said the proposal will reflect a diversified workforce in the downtown but efforts are also needed for the city’s commercial sector.

“Quite frankly, I’m not ready to start singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ quite yet on the downtown, until the commercial sector picks up. And as what Bill Pillsbury said, Mass Development is starting an effort and in May we’ll hear about another effort that’s underway with the Mass Technology Collaborative. Both focused on that, bringing together the commercial sector with the residents of the downtown. I think that will mark the success of downtown Haverhill. But this is a very good project,” Mitchitson said.

Subject to closing the building purchase and financing, construction is expected to begin in 2016. The construction phase is expected to take 13 months to complete.

According to the company’s website, “Since AHSC’s inception, our major activities have focused on preserving housing units for low, very-low and extremely low-income residents. Through our involvement in over 15 projects either directly through acquisition, rehabilitation/construction, or as a special non-profit member of the owner and providing a significant role in the project financing plan, we have kept 1,234 units affordable to this population, including a transitional home with services for people with HIV/AIDS, an assisted living facility (nearly 70% of its units are affordable), as well as providing supportive housing for homeless families and homeless veterans.”

10 thoughts on “Council Approves Majority Low-Income Housing Project

  1. I support the plan as long as it includes provision for tenant and business parking. Without a provision for parking for everyone who lives there, it won’t work. Fifteen spaces for 62 units plus businesses is just not going to work for anyone. Just ask the people who presently live in the area, try to find your own parking space, and/or take a ride down to the Essex Street area. You will see what is going on down there.

    In very short order and after the tenants move into these units there will be people banging on the doors of the City Council demanding better planning and more parking. The conversation about more parking HAS to continue and action taken on this very important issue.

  2. just what Haverhill needs more housing down town let the city council live in then an see how hard it is to find parking the city just don’t care they don’t have to live in them all the city cares about is the money an not the way we have to live

  3. We need to fill up the empty buildings in the Essex Street area to generate tax dollars, BUT the above article does NOT mention where these tenants and customers of new commercial endeavors are going to park their cars. Just WHAT is planned for parking?

    Every one of these so called low income people have late model cars that we the taxpayers of Massachusetts pay for and they will need a place to park…. So will business customers. Parking spaces in the Essex Street area are difficult to find right now, so how do the developers and City fathers plan to accommodate everyone??????? Parking will need to be provided, and not just on-street parking, and the parking garage CANNOT accommodate the additional traffic either.. On-street parking does NOT cut it right now. More cars with the inability ti find parking will only discourage residents from shopping in Haverhill.

  4. Back in the 80’s when I looked at converting large 2 family homes into 2 condos I was told by the city that there had to be 1.5 parking spaces per unit of off street parking to meet zoning requirements or it would not be allowed by the city. The zoning has not changed. Where is the city planning on allowing the 93 cars to park for the residents and the dozen or so other daily visitors to the first floor commercial space?

  5. John Mitchitson: Evaluating the affects of downtown policies enacted by city officials will never be achieved in an objective, businesslike manner because none of you ever ask how many people now never go downtown as a result of those policies. It’s a big number John.

    Parking taxes. Proposes yearly increases to those parking taxes by the mayor. Meals taxes. Taxpayers having to pay to park in a public garage they paid to build. The city even invested in a vehicle for the parking control person to drive around downtown to ticket people. Think about that for a second John…government officials ‘investing’ taxpayer funds with the sole purpose to penalize downtown visitors. But it’s not really about welcoming people downtown…it’s about creating yet another revenue stream to go into that deep pool of hidden funds you and the mayor never mention.

    And John, taxpayers still want to know how much the city was paid by a major motion picture studio to rent downtown so they could harass Haverhill citizens in their own homes.

    • Jack, As you are probably aware, the chances of getting either an answer to the “Deep Pool” money or what the film company paid are two, slim and none. This administration has for its entire stay in office been very secretive and if I may say a little sleazy with the slush money. Can’t these answers be obtained with a freedom of information act request?