Haverhill Council to Decide Sale of Ornsteen Property, Permit for St. Joseph’s Apartments

Rendering of proposed plans for Ornsteen property adjacent to Skateland.

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

After multiple efforts over nearly 20 years, Haverhill expects to finally sell a long-abandoned industrial property near the Bradford commuter rail station.

Procopio Companies of Lynnfield was selected in February to develop the city-owned Ornsteen property after the project was whittled down at the city’s request to 290 units and a payment of $1 million. Mayor James J. Fiorentini is asking the City Council tonight for formal approval to sell the 4.8-acre property at 31-35 Railroad Ave.

“I am pleased that the Ornsteen Riverfront project is moving forward,” Fiorentini said in a press release Monday, adding, “This public-private partnership is projected to generate $19.2 million for city coffers over the first 20 years.”

Under the proposal, Procopio Companies would purchase and develop the heavily wooded parcels into a mixed-use development with waterfront apartments, restaurant and stores; public park with amphitheater; recreational walkways; boat launch, dock and other amenities.

Besides the purchase price, the project is expected to generate $900,000 in permit fees and tax revenue of $17.3 million over the first 20 years. The mayor’s office said 289 construction jobs will be created and eventually 20-30 permanent retail and restaurants jobs.

“Our great downtown was a major selling point to the developer to finally get a great proposal project after nearly 20 years of trying,” Fiorentini said.

For the past 18 years, the city has tried four times to find a suitable developer for the site. Fiorentini said the project will have a “minimal impact” on schools since units are small, mostly one-bedroom, with a few two-bedroom units.

If the sale is approved Tuesday, the project will proceed to the permitting stage. The mayor’s office said this includes a requirement to improve the intersection and traffic flow to the area.

In other business before the Haverhill City Council, members are expected to consider granting a special permit to allow the construction of 36 apartments at the former St. Joseph’s School, 26 Broadway.

Developer Jonathan Cody of Atlantis Investments, who previously won support from the Haverhill Appeals and Planning Boards, plans 28 studios and eight one-bedroom apartments. In February, he said he expects to lease the existing gymnasium to an unnamed local nonprofit.

Also, Council President Melinda E. Barrett and Councilor John A. Michitson are requesting a Mayor-Council conference to address racism and “potential policy changes involving Police Department and other city departments.”

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