New Mid-Rise Building Could Change Downtown Skyline

Salvatore Lupoli could be named as developer of a Merrimack Street parcel. (File photograph.)

Haverhill Planning and Economic Development Director William Pillsbury Jr.

Haverhill Planning and Economic Development Director William Pillsbury Jr.

Haverhill’s downtown skyline could change dramatically with the city’s expected acceptance of a plan for a new mid-rise commercial building near the western end of Merrimack Street.

The Lupoli Companies of Lawrence was the only firm to respond to the city’s request for proposals to redevelop a downtown parking lot between Haverhill Bank and Rent-A-Center. Known officially as the Riverfront Promenade Parking Lot, the land is just under one acre in size.

“There was somewhat of a concept plan—a loose idea of what is going to be built,” Orlando Pacheco, city purchasing agent told WHAV this morning. He explained Lupoli proposed to buy the land for $700,000 for a building of from seven to 10 stories. The company, operated by Salvatore Lupoli had recently been circulating a drawing of a 10-story commercial building for nearby 192 Merrimack St. Lupoli is the founder of Sal’s Pizza and has redeveloped the Riverwalk property, Lawrence, among other sites.

Lupoli’s proposal was viewed last week by a committee composed of Pacheco, Economic and Planning Director William Pillsbury, City Councilor William J. Macek and City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. Mayor James J. Fiorentini assembled the committee to review the proposal submitted near the end of August. Committee members are said to have agreed Lupoli should be named “most advantageous respondent.”

Haverhill Purchasing Agent and Energy Manager Orlando Pacheco advocated for the high school solar project.

Haverhill Purchasing Agent and Energy Manager Orlando Pacheco.

Pacheco said a formal recommendation from the committee is subject both to city council approval and negotiations between the mayor and Lupoli.

“There is some negotiation there as to how the property is developed. You have to give us a plan and, if you deviate from the concept, the municipality has to come back,” Pacheco said. A key concern, he said, will be the replacement of parking spaces lost to the project.

Northern Essex Community College and Greater Lawrence Family Health Center have been identified as possible tenants.

Last spring, college trustees received a report discussing the possibility of partnering with Endicott College at an undisclosed downtown location.

“Northern Essex is currently exploring the possibility of offering a hospitality and culinary arts program in downtown Haverhill,” Ernie Greenslade, college director of public relations, told WHAV this week. “The college is meeting with potential education partners, along with reviewing costs and potential sources of funding. If it makes sound financial sense, the college would welcome the opportunity to contribute to the revitalization of downtown Haverhill.”

The parcel was previously part of the Merrimack Street Urban Renewal Project of the 1970s. A number of contiguous buildings were razed, leading to the development of George Kay’s Crystal Lounge (now Ocasio’s True Martial Arts and other businesses), Haverhill Bank and the parking lot.

City councilors declared the property surplus at the end of May upon the recommendation of Noah Koretz, Mass Development Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) fellow.

2 thoughts on “New Mid-Rise Building Could Change Downtown Skyline

  1. Sal has developed an interesting business model. He renovates old mill buildings in undesirable cities and then through relationships he’s made fills the buildings with state and public agencies. The state agencies reward him for the development, which wouldn’t occur without up front commitments from the state and if he had to rely on private corporations to fill space, by paying above market lease rates. Public officials boast about the urban development, when the fact is they’re sticking it to taxpayers to fund a private, for profit corporation.