Haverhill Expands Downtown Incentive Zones to Encourage More Housing and Rehabilitation

Little River dam and falls at Winter Street in Haverhill. (WHAV News photograph.)

The Haverhill City Council last night agreed to expand the city’s Housing Development Incentive Zone, a move that has the potential to bring more market rate housing into the downtown area.

The existing zone was developed back in 2013 under the state’s Housing Development Incentive Program, which provides tax incentives to developers who undertake new construction or substantial rehabilitation within that zone. The current zone encompasses most of the downtown area, including Merrimack, Washington and Winter Streets and Mayor James J. Fiorentini says the program has been a great success.

“We became one of the first cities in the state to establish what are called HDIP districts in order to encourage market rate housing in our downtown and it’s been a great success. We wouldn’t have today Harbor Place or Haverhill Heights without the HDIP program,” he said.

The proposed expansion will extend further along Winter Street into Lafayette Square, an area that includes the now vacant St. Joseph’s School and former convent. The expansion area would also include many vacant buildings and underutilized properties along River Street.

Andrew K. Herlihy, community development division director.

Haverhill’s Community Development Division Director Andrew K. Herlihy explained the expansion would not make any changes to the program itself.

“We’re not making any substantive changes to the actual terms of the program. We’re simply expanding the map,” he said.

Fiorentini and Herlihy both admitted when the incentive zone was first created, these expanded areas did not seem like attractive redevelopment targets, but with the renaissance of downtown Haverhill, they have become very much so.

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