Demolition of Former Armenian Church Set to Commence; Domino’s Improves Plans

St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church is now boarded and demolition is expected soon. (WHAV News photograph.)


A final look. Openings at the former St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church have been boarded. (WHAV News photograph.)

The end is near for the building that once housed St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church at the corner of Winter and Main Streets.

Key architectural features of the 110 Main St. building across from Haverhill City Hall have been removed, interior contents hauled away and the building boarded in preparation for demolition. Although some expressed concern about the original design of a retail plaza to replace the church, Haverhill Building Inspector Richard Osborne said he is pleased with revised plans the city requested.

“There’s no comparison to what was submitted before. There’s brick. It’s a very nice presentation,” Osborne told WHAV. The owner of a Domino’s Pizza franchise promised city councilors in June the developer would voluntarily work with officials to construct an attractive strip shopping area. Osborne said Domino’s has “Most definitely been cooperative.”

Besides the pizza shop, to be relocated from 57 Dudley St., up to three small shops are planned.

Before a demolition permit is issued, Osborne said, all department heads must sign off on a site plan submitted by Oak Consulting Group, Newburyport. In addition, any environmental issues must be addressed. Those could include safe removal of any asbestos and lead paint abatement. He said these matters are strictly regulated by the state Department of Environmental Protection. Final permits could be issued within a week, Osborne added.

Unlike a previous plan to locate a Burger King at the intersection, formally known as Atwood Square, the Domino’s proposal requires no zoning variances and is allowed by right. Burger King required permission from the Haverhill Zoning Board of Appeals to construct a drive-up.

Late last June, in a 6 to 2 vote, councilors defeated an ordinance which would have granted the Haverhill Historic Commission authority to both delay demolition of properties in the historic district and regulate designs of new buildings. Most councilors argued church parishioners need the money from the sale of the iconic church to complete a new building that has been in the works for 15 years.

Councilor William J. Macek called the quick plan to halt demolition of the church an 11th hour attempt. “I’m not going to roadblock the church or make it any harder,” he said.

St. Gregory the Illuminator Apostolic Church merged in 2002 with Holy Cross Armenian Apostolic Church of Lawrence to form the Armenian Church at Hye Pointe. Rev Vart Gyozalian, pastor, told councilors the church hopes to have its new Bradford building open by next January.

One thought on “Demolition of Former Armenian Church Set to Commence; Domino’s Improves Plans

  1. Missing from story: If the city had approved the ordinance to hold up the project, Haverhill could have been facing yet another lawsuit. You cannot legislate ex post facto. Sad to see the church go, but the right decision was made to keep the city out of getting sued…again.