When Haverhill city councilors formally receive Lupoli Companies’ $160 million redevelopment plan tonight, they will hear about its evolution. It now includes a $1 million purchase price, absorbs the existing Pentucket Bank office at White’s Corner, features a larger parking garage and more restaurants and increases estimated annual property tax payments to $1.75 million.
Following WHAV News’ report yesterday, officials revealed each of the five downtown bidders met with the Merrimack Street Redevelopment Committee and had opportunities to adjust proposals submitted last spring. Haverhill Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr. told WHAV the Committee met at UMass Lowell’s iHub.
“Two full days of grilling them on their proposals and ranking and rating them and coming up with up a synopsis which shows that this one clearly was the best project. Some of the other projects, to be quite honest, were not feasible or constructable. The other projects were primarily affordable housing,” he said.
As WHAV News reported first, a bank official previously said “The present bank building is also in the mix to be torn down. It was offered to all four or five proposals and, one group in particular, implemented it into their plan. Whatever proposal that is chosen, that’s in the mix.”
Mayor James J. Fiorentini said the revised plan includes as many as 12 small restaurants which, similar to Boston’s Eataly, will attract “thousands of people to Haverhill.” The plan benefits from Northern Essex Community College’s Lupoli Family Institute of Culinary Arts in Lupoli’s nearby “Heights” building. Pillsbury likened the concept to a “food pavilion.”
Lupoli’s updated proposal increases retail space from 17,650 square-feet of street-level retail space to 51,000 square feet. Officials said it was the only proposal that did not rely on any tax breaks.
The mayor conceded there were committee members who were predisposed against working with Lupoli. “There were a number of things that sold the Committee, including Committee members who went in saying ‘Anybody, but Lupoli,’” he said.
Haverhill City Council President Melinda E. Barrett, a member of the Redevelopment Committee, said she was among the sceptics. “If you mark me in the never Lupoli camp, I was there. After looking at all of the proposals though, it had the most viability, most potential to have an 18-hour economy which, I think from my background, is needed for downtown,” she said. She added, there was “a broad group of people who were on the advisory commission” who found Lupoli’s proposal “the best proposal for the city.”
The mayor said developer Salvatore N. Lupoli was the only one who said he would pay for the parking garage. “That’s about anywhere from a $25 and a $31 million investment. Everybody else said either that we would pay for it or that it was up to use to go out and get state money. That was a huge, huge factor,” he said.
Lupoli’s proposal expands the proposed replacement parking garage from 570 to 616 spaces. All developers were asked to pay for a parking garage to replace the more than 40-year-old Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck. The city, however, has received a $750,000 state MassWorks grant to pay for design costs.
The Haverhill City Council meets online and in-person tonight at 7 p.m., in the Theodore A, Pelosi City Council Chambers, Haverhill City Hall. As a public service, the meeting will be broadcast live by 97.9 WHAV.