Haverhill Council Gives Developer Time to Revise Water Street Housing Plan to Reduce Units

John F. McCarthy of Minco Development first outlined the housing plan in 2021. (WHAV News photograph.)

A proposal to a construct a multifamily apartment building on a long-vacant piece of property along downtown Haverhill’s waterfront was put on hold at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting

85 Water Street Development, managed by Louis P. Minicucci Jr. was seeking a special permit to construct a 113-unit building on 1.2 acres of land. That property is currently zoned for a maximum of 83 units. John F. McCarthy of Minco Development described the plan.

“85 Water Street is probably one of the last sites on the waterfront near the downtown commercial business district, and we are looking to develop it with 113 market rate apartments with underground parking and dedicated open space for public use in accordance with the waterfront overlay district,” he explained.

The plan called for 49 studio apartments of approximately 600 square feet each, 50 one-bedroom units of about 700 square feet each and 14 two-bedroom units, approximately 1,000 square feet each. While the total number of units exceeds the zoning guidelines, McCarthy said, because of their smaller size they would have minimal impact on Haverhill’s infrastructure. The plans also provide parking for approximately 135 vehicles.

Additionally, the developer offered to rebuild and maintain the adjacent River Rest Park in return for the density waiver.

“The park is probably not as inviting and vibrant as I’m sure it was intended to be when it was first developed. Much of the hardscape has deteriorated. Our plan is to totally refurbish the entire park,” he added.

While most councilors supported the plan to develop the long-unused property they said they are hesitant to increase the number of allowed units, siding with city Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr. who recommended denying the proposal.

“I seldom go against our economic development and planning director. I don’t believe this project is the right size for the location. I do believe it blocks the view, which is a really cherished view. I think they have issues with parking and, although I appreciate your efforts here, I too will not support this,” said Council President Melinda E. Barrett.

Asked if they would consider continuing with the project with only 83 units, the builder said it would not be financially feasible to invest in rebuilding the park without the income from the extra units.

Ultimately, based on a recommendation by Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua, the council agreed, by a 7-2 vote, to continue the discussions until Nov. 30, giving the developer time to consider options. Barrett and Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan cast the two dissenting votes.

Comments are closed.