Harbor Place Developers Buy Adjacent Building for $2.5 Million

Former home of Lahey Health Behavioral Services, 60 Merrimack St.

During a topping off ceremony at Harbor Place, Mayor James J. Fiorentini addresses the audience.

During a topping off ceremony at Harbor Place, Mayor James J. Fiorentini addresses the audience.

The tide known as Harbor Place appears to be moving upriver with the purchase of another block along the south side of Merrimack Street.

An entity, associated with the $68 million Harbor Place project now under construction, closed Thursday on the former Lahey Health Behavioral Services building, 60 Merrimack St. The property was purchased for just under $2.5 million by Merrimack Street Acquisition, according to a deed filed in Southern Essex Registry of Deeds, Salem.

Harbor Place developers already owned property on both sides of Lahey Health Behavioral Services, last taking optometry offices of Dr. Frederic Rose, 72-74 Merrimack St., in 2014. The group had previously purchased a contiguous block of properties from the former Woolworth’s department store through the Ocasio Martial Arts building.

Plans for the property have not yet been disclosed. WHAV placed calls after business hours Thursday to Lisa B. Alberghini, president of the Planning Office for Urban Affairs, and Ronald Trombley, of the Greater Haverhill Foundation, but there was no response by news deadline.

The property, owned by D. R. Locke of Boxford, is the same one the city considered taking by eminent domain last September. At that time, six city councilors voted in favor of a $3,500 fund transfer from a reserve account to pay for an appraisal of the property. The previous December, the city paid $10,000 in damages for temporary and permanent easements for piling, access and utilities associated with Harbor Place. D. R. Locke paid $3.1 million for the property in 2007, records show. Attempts to reach Douglas R. Locke were not successful.

Property Dispute Reaches Superior Court

A dispute related to acquisition of the property reached Essex County Superior Court last May. At that time the principals of Harbor Place filed suit against D. R. Locke and Northeast Behavioral Health Corporation. D. R. Locke filed a counter claim last June.

Last August, Lahey Health Behavioral Services said it was considering moving some services next door and closing others as it leaves “the building in stages to accommodate development plans.” Plans called for closing the practice during the fall. Last month, Northeast Behavioral Health sought and won an attachment, valued at $450,000, against landlord D. R. Locke in Newburyport Superior Court.

Merrimack Street Acquisition LLC was formed last December, but is associated with Merrimack Street Ventures which is developing Harbor Place, downtown. Its purpose, according to records filed with the Massachusetts Secretary of State, is to “acquire and develop certain property in Haverhill, Massachusetts, directly or in joint venture with other entities for operation of residential dwelling units, commercial space and related facilities.” The development consortium is comprised of the Greater Haverhill Foundation and the Boston-based Planning Office for Urban Affairs.

Construction of both a commercial building and housing is underway. The commercial building will be occupied by Randall Bennett of Randall Bennett & Company, on the top floor; Pentucket Bank, occupying the fourth floor; UMass Lowell, leasing the second and third floors; and Haverhill Community Television, which purchased a first floor corner condominium.

A $19 million state MassWorks has paid many of the costs associated with the project. According to a June 30, 2014 agreement between Haverhill and the state, the total project budget was to have been broken down along these lines:

Site Assembly/Acquisition 3,549,000
Site Remediation/Demolition 1,141,227
Boardwalk 3,352,499
Development Platform/Garage 4,240,638
Site Work/Access/Plaza 5,611,548
Streetscape Improvements 360,156
Contingency 773,607
Total $19,028,807

The contract also calls for all projects to be completed by June.

3 thoughts on “Harbor Place Developers Buy Adjacent Building for $2.5 Million

  1. “An entity, associated with the $68 million Harbor Place project now under construction” –

    The Fish Family thanks Brian Dempsey et al for the legal larceny of said taxpayers monies for a property no one would touch for over 40 years.

    Crony Capitalism at its finest.