Former Trattoria Al Forno To Become 24 Apartments

Developer David Traggorth and Haverhill James J. Fiorentini in front of former Trattoria Al Forno Tuesday morning. (WHAV News photograph by Dana Esmel.)

A recent Washington Street Historic District developer makes plans for another mixed-use, market-rate housing and commercial redevelopment at one of the last remaining vacant buildings in the restaurant district.

The four-story brick structure which formerly housed Trattoria Al Forno and Haverhill Billiards, also known as the Rugg Building, 81-87 Washington St., is slated for redevelopment by Traggorth Companies of Boston, according to Mayor James J. Fiorentini. Traggorth most recently completed the nearby, 18-unit JM Lofts project at the former Surplus Office Supply building and now plans to create 24 market-rate rental apartments on three upper floors and renovate first floor commercial space at the Rugg Building. Fiorentini said a filing for a special permit from the city council, using underlying zoning within the designated “40-R” district, would come as early as Friday. A council hearing, he added, would be expected in mid-November.

“All of the units are market-rate units and this is something we’ve really pushed for downtown. I’m a big believer in affordable housing. I want to keep Haverhill affordable so my children and grandchildren can live here, but not every place has to be an affordable unit. I also want market-rate units so that people who have the disposable income can come to the restaurants downtown and keep those restaurants going,” Fiorentini said.

Traggorth Companies’ David Traggorth said they had a “great experience” working with the city for the JM Lofts project and are excited to come back for a building needing “the same care and attention after many years of being vacant.” He added the vision includes rehabbing 2,000 square feet of commercial space on the first floor to historic standards.

“We would love to see a restaurant, we would love to see any retailer that’s going to be successful, bring vibrancy to the street and that’s also going to attract residences above. Any number of different uses that people will enjoy, to come down and check out, not only from the immediate area but from a wider area as well,” Traggorth said.

Also on hand for Tuesday’s news conference at the Rugg Building were Haverhill Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsubry and MassDevelopment Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) fellow Noah B. Koretz.

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