Conversion of Former Ted’s Leather to Housing Stirs Concerns

Redevelopment plans are moving forward for one of the last remaining former shoe factory buildings in downtown Haverhill.

Haverhill city councilors voted 8 to 0 to approve, with conditions, a special permit application by Chinburg Properties, Newmarket, N.H., to redevelop the former Ted’s Leather Goods building, 24 Essex St., into 56 apartment units and 6,000 square feet of first floor commercial space. Parking for its residents would come by leased spaces at the nearby MVRTA parking garage. Passage was motioned by Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua on conditions of carrying written recommendations from planning and departmental heads into the project’s definitive plan. Vice President Melinda E. Barrett also recommended prohibiting the development’s residents from purchasing surface lot parking permits from the city. However, Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr. told Barrett further action would be needed by the Downtown Parking Commission.

“It’s a policy issue that we would need to have approved by the parking commission. But I think it’s very appropriate, not just specific to this project. We should be looking at that for the (Haverhill Music Center building) and for the next project that comes online,” Pillsbury said. “A space in the garage, they have that. They would be able to park in a two-hour space, anyplace that’s legal. But I think they wouldn’t be allowed to purchase a permit and I think that’s a very reasonable request.”

As WHAV reported in March, plans by Chinburg Properties to redevelop the Ted’s Leather site were first announced by Mayor James J. Fiorentini during his state of the city address.

The discussion renewed calls for more parking spaces, including a proposed third parking garage at the city’s Wingate Street surface lot. Comments during the hearing included concern over the availability of parking spaces in the Essex Street-Wingate Street neighborhood for permit holders versus patrons to downtown businesses. Bevilacqua, himself a former planning director, reminded his colleagues of a past proposal to bring a parking garage to the existing Wingate Street lot.

“When I was planning director years ago, one of the ideas we had was to put a parking garage in that Washington-Wingate parking lot. And I’d like to ask that be one of the considerations as the city goes forward in analyzing future parking. It was an idea we had talked about. It would be convenient. I t would be sort of a micro-lot that would go there in a parking garage. I would just offer that as an opportunity to consider again,” Bevilacqua said.

During the public hearing, residents who identified themselves as opponents raised  concerns about speeding vehicles and claimed the downtown police presence has diminished in response to criminal activity elsewhere. As a separate motion by Bevilacqua, following the special permit vote, their comments were referred to “appropriate city departments for review and consideration.”

Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien was absent.

2 thoughts on “Conversion of Former Ted’s Leather to Housing Stirs Concerns

  1. The biggest issue is trying to drive through the city. Gridlock has been the norm and I for one, take a different route now. I refuse to stay stuck downtown and this is going to be a huge issue in the future that is being ignored. Nobody seems to care about what is to come regarding traffic. You still can’t turn left onto the bridge from water street in a timely manner never mind the amount of light cycles needed to get across main st. to water st. from Merrimack st. The Mayor is clueless about this stuff and it is going to create chaos when Harbor place opens up.

  2. Parking, PARKING, PARKING! Where are these new residents going to park???????? It appears that all of this parking planning is still unresolved, all are ready to sign the approval documents without thinking about parking, and everyone is keeping their fingers crossed that there will not be an issue with this after the fact.. Are our elected officials, you know…. the people who know it all —- going to mess up AGAIN and not make provision for resident parking?

    — Why is the developer not required to provide underground parking or to make other provisions for resident parking? If you don’t— sooner than later, someone is going to wake up to a big MESS! Can’t find on street parking as it is now, and the lots are always full. Garage has limited space, on and on.

    I make ONE pass looking for parking…. If I don’t find one, I don’t shop downtown, and/or cancel any appointments I may have. Course, no one needs my money, but suppose all who live on the outskirts of town feel as I do?