Developer Basks in Council Accolades for Harrison St. Housing Project

Haverhill City Councilor John A. Michitson. (WHAV News file photograph by Jay Saulnier.)

Chelsea lawyer Anthony J. Rossi resurrected a housing proposal for 108 Harrison St. -- the old St. Gregory and St. James school building -- winning a special permit from the City Council for 17 apartment units, ranging from studio lofts to three-bedrooms.

In November 2017, a Lowell-based housing agency had its proposal rejected as a result of neighbor outcry over project density, lack of parking and light pollution.

Council President John A. Michitson (pictured) pointed out the lack of neighbor representation for Tuesday night’s hearing.

“This is a success story for that neighborhood. They came in here, they fought and they shot it down. Now they are getting what they fought for,” Michitson said.

One by one, councilors praised Rossi for his efforts to fulfill the neighbors’ wishes, beginning with Councilor Melinda Barrett.

“I think you hit all the points that the neighbors were concerned about the last time this project was before us,” she said. “This is a distinct improvement.”

Councilor William J. Macek asked Rossi to offer preferential treatment to Haverhill residents who apply to rent from him.

That is a common practice for his properties, Rossi said. Of seven units in a project he owns on High Street, five are rented by families that moved from other Haverhill neighborhoods.

“You’ve done a nice job and I’m sure this will be an asset to the neighborhood,” Macek said.

Councilor Colin F. LePage said Rossi confirmed that the board was right to reject the original proposal for the property.

“I did not support it the last time, with the hopes that something like this would happen,” LePage said. “I greatly appreciate what you’re doing.”

Council Vice President Thomas J. Sullivan predicted Rossi’s project could serve as a catalyst for more improvements in the neighborhood.

“We didn’t know what would happen when we rejected the last project; I believe this is a better project,” he said. “Thank you for providing this kind of housing.”

Rossi detailed the highlights of his development, including:

  • 34 parking spaces, with 14 for guests
  • Handicap-accessible unit
  • Fencing along parking spaces to block car headlights
  • $150,000 worth of site work to include added green space

Rossi said a 65,000-square-foot building on Hale Street will be his next project.