Plans for a 59-unit multifamily dwelling on Water Street will move forward as the Haverhill City council granted a special permit Tuesday night for the new development, on the former Friend’s Landing site, 85 Water St.
Councilors unanimously passed an amended special permit request from Frank Franzone and Water Street Waterfront LLC by a vote of 7 to 0. Councilors Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien and Colin LePage were absent. There was no public opposition. Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan called the project “a great proposal” that would complement the ongoing Harbor Place development on Merrimack Street.
“It’s been a long time and you’ve been through a lot. And I think you’ve hit it on the head. We all know, we’ve been told and I agree, the future development of Haverhill for residential is going to be either on the river or closer to the highways. That’s basically where the bulk of future development is going in the city and that’s why we established the waterfront zoning ordinance, because we wanted to protect public access to the river as developments such as this take place, Sullivan said.
“It’s going to provide a nice level of housing. We don’t how much we’re going to sell these for yet, but in my business we guess. And I’m guessing probably in the mid “twos” to up to maybe high “threes.” That’s where the market might be right now anyway for housing such as this. And there’s a need for that type of housing in Haverhill and it’s going to complement Harbor Place very nicely and it’s going to complement what’s going on, on Merrimack Street and Washington Street as well,” Sullivan said.
The special permit approval comes 12 years after an initial development proposal would have created 80 units of housing in two, ten-story towers, according to Mayor James J. Fiorentini, who in 2003 was a city councilor who opposed that plan. He said then, “it would largely block the view of the river forever.” With the city’s creation of a Waterfront Zoning District, “the rezoning of the Merrimack River waterfront, a primary goal of the project was to create public access and public space along the riverfront,” Fiorentini said in a statement.
The motion to approve was made by Councilor William H. Ryan and seconded by Councilor William J. Macek, whose amendment to follow conditions recommended by Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr. was also unanimously passed. “The project provides for substantial public access to the river and provides a public park, open space and the reestablishment of river dock space,” Pillsbury said.
The housing development proposal in the city’s Waterfront Zoning District moves to a definitive plan stage with the Haverhill Planning Board.