A last-minute change in a petition to add 15 apartments to a well-known downtown Haverhill property was met with enthusiasm—and, ultimately, majority approval—by the Haverhill City Council last night.
West Newbury developer Theodore P. Ammon originally sought approval for the construction of market rate apartments on the top three floors of a building located at 45 Wingate St. The historic building is home to the Peddler’s Daughter and Shoe City Urban Bistro.
However, Ammon’s attorney Robert D. Harb asked the Council to accept an amendment which would make 20% of those units affordable. Harb explained the reason for the request.
“We asked to waive any affordable housing for this development because Mr. Ammon was applying for HDIP tax credits which mandate market rate rentals. He’s been advised the credits are not available for years for this project so that the applicant is willing to have 20% of affordable housing in accordance with the downtown smart growth district,” he said.
Harb said the proposal called for nine studio apartments and six one-bedroom apartments. As a result, the builder would offer two of the studios and one of the one-bedrooms as affordable units.
The plans would keep the two restaurants, on the first floor and basement, intact but would improve the entryway for customers and residents. Scott Brown, the architect for the project, explained.
“The big thing that we are doing with this building is that we are going to make it accessible to all. So, on the right side of the building where there is currently a ramp, we are entirely reworking that area, putting a new ramp in that will go to the lowest level. At the bottom of the ramp, we are going to create a lobby for the patrons of the restaurant and the tenants for the floors above. And off of that lobby, everyone will be able to access an elevator,” he said.
Brown said the building’s exterior will maintain an historic look. He added the studio units will be about 400 to 450 square feet while the one-bedrooms will be about 500 square feet.
Councilors questioned the size of trash storage area, configuration of public rest rooms and the actual availability of parking spaces in the MVRTA garage. In the end, voted 8-1 to approve the proposal pending approval by all city departments. Council President Melinda E. Barrett cast the lone dissenting vote.