Haverhill has received five proposals to redevelop some or all of the land around, and including, the Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck, downtown.
Developers had until April 28 to submit proposals to reuse up to five parcels of city-owned land, totaling 4.5 acres, land between Merrimack Street, Main Street and Bailey Boulevard. It is the first time developers have come forward for that area in about 40 years. WHAV has requested a copy of the proposals from the city. In a letter to city councilors to be received formally tonight, Mayor James J. Fiorentini said all of the ideas are from “reputable” companies and for “mixed-use housing and commercial/retail development.”
“We have not reviewed them in detail, but at first blush they all appear to meet the criteria for submitting a proposal, although that needs to be examined in more detail,” the mayor wrote.
The land was once part of the city’s ill-fated Merrimack Street Urban Renewal Project. Crysen Limited Partnership did manage to build what is now Pentucket Bank at White’s Corner and the Pentucket Medical Building in the early 1980s before giving up.
A review will be undertaken by a new Merrimack Street Redevelopment Committee, comprised of City Council President Melinda E. Barrett, Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien, Haverhill architect Matt Juros, City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr., Purchasing Agent Steven S. Bucuzzo, Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr., Health and Inspectional Services Director Richard MacDonald, Merrimack Valley Planning Commission Planner Nate Robertson and Assistant Economic Development Director Pamela Price. Also sitting on the committee in advisory capacities are Joseph Faro Jr., developer of Tuscan Village in Salem, N.H., and state Rep. Christina Minicucci, who is also a former property manager for large developments. Neither has any other involvement with the city’s project.
Fiorentini also told councilors he wants to hire Boston-based Utile Architecture and Planning to advise the city. The company previously worked on the city’s new master plan and a reimagining of Merrimack Street as part of the Merrimack Street Transformative Development Initiative in 2015. At the time, MassDevelopment Transformative Development Fellow Noah B. Koretz told WHAV the goal is to create “a vibrant Merrimack Street area with a successful downtown atmosphere” including riverfront access expansion.
The Haverhill City Council meets tonight at 7 p.m., online and in the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. City Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 4 Summer St. As a public service, 97.9 WHAV is carrying the meeting live.