85-Acre Hilldale Ave. Site Receives Development Boost with $50K State Grant

Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. (Courtesy photograph from State House News Service)

A company with more than a century of local history is receiving state support in determining the types of businesses most suitable for an 85-acre site along upper Hilldale Avenue.

Frontier Development will benefit from a $50,000 Site Readiness grant given to the city. The Hilldale site is one of 10 across the state sharing in $2.3 million of grants designed to “overcome obstacles to developing otherwise prime locations.” Frontier Development’s Joseph “Jack” Paley told WHAV how the money may be used here.

“This study grant will allow us and the city to plan what is in the best interests of the taxpayers for that area up there. It is a very large, undeveloped area,” Paley said.

In announcing the grant round, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito last week said, “Each of today’s grant recipients has a unique plan to transform an abandoned or underused parcel into a new hub for economic activity.” The grant may be used to finance feasibility studies, master planning, environmental work, land purchases and site improvements.

Paley said he intends to target clean industries on the land his family bought more than 40 years ago. He represents the third generation of the Lowell-based firm that began in 1906. His father started developing property in Haverhill during the 1950s and 60s. One project was for General Electric and another was a 30,000-square-foot telephone company building on Downing Avenue near the city’s public works garage.

The Hilldale Avenue site near Atkinson, N.H., has a new roadway, water, sewer and fire hydrants thanks to earlier grants. It is lacking heavy electrical power, but he is working with utility companies to remedy that. Paley said the state grant will help answer questions specific to the site.

“What’s the highest and best use for the land? What works best with the existing City of Haverhill zoning and assets?”

Frontier Development has set a goal of completing planning this year and get a project “in the ground next year if not sooner.”

Paley credited Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini for his accessibility and dedication to attracting new businesses to the city. “Of all the cities we work in, Haverhill is probably one of the most proactive in getting new jobs,” he said.

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