Haverhill Council to Consider Permit for ‘The Beck’ 290-Apartment and Retail Complex at Ornsteen Site

Aerial view of “The Beck,” near the Bradford commuter rail station. (Courtesy rendering.)

Details of a 290-unit apartment complex, to be known as “The Beck,” near the Bradford commuter rail station will be aired Tuesday night by the Haverhill City Council when the body considers granting a special permit for the waterfront project.

Nearly a year ago, Haverhill councilors voted 7-1 to sell the former Ornsteen Heel property, 19 Railroad Ave., with Council President Melinda E. Barrett dissenting and Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan abstaining.

Developer Michael Procopio and the Procopio Company of Lynnfield plans to buy the Ornsteen property from the city for $1 million and use it as well as the land currently occupied by Skateland and an abandoned gas station lot near the Comeau Bridge. Besides apartments, the project consists of 6,500 square feet of retail space, including a restaurant with outdoor seating; extension of the riverwalk; and a park with amphitheater. The project now covers nearly seven acres.

In details given to city councilors, Procopio plans two five-story wood-framed buildings over, what is described as, a steel and concrete “podium” parking garage. Among the apartments are 148 one-bedroom, 91 two-bedroom, 30 studios and 21 one-bedrooms with dens. There will be 347 parking spaces—320 for residential use and 27 for retail and public park uses. Typically, 491 parking spaces would be required, but projects in city waterfront zones are allowed to exceed usual parking, housing density and other requirements.

Last November, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said Haverhill will receive a $1.95 million MassWorks grant for redesign of the intersection of South Elm Street, Blossom Street, Laurel Avenue and Railroad Avenue. Traffic was the major concern when the proposal first went before City Council.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini began talking up the proposal Monday in emails and social media postings. The mayor wrote “The site is plenty large enough to handle” the number of apartments, street improvements will alleviate traffic congestion and an additional $1 million a year in property taxes will help pay for schools. Anticipating objections over the city’s growth rate, Fiorentini, argues “Right now we are growing at half the rate of Methuen and at a slower pace than Lawrence or any other area community.”

The Haverhill City Council meets both online and in-person Tuesday night at 7, from the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. City Council Chambers in Haverhill City Hall, 4 Summer St., Haverhill. As a public service, WHAV plans to carry the meeting live.

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