Although actual construction began months ago, ground was ceremonially broken Tuesday for “The Beck,” a 290-unit housing development, park, restaurant and retail complex along the Merrimack River in Bradford.
The ceremony also called attention to planned roadway improvements aimed at relieving a bottleneck at the intersection of South Elm Street, Blossom Street, Laurel Avenue and Railroad Avenue near the Joseph C. Comeau Bridge. Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini praised the developer and the state for the upgrade.
He said, “I want to thank the Procopio Companies for working with us. I want to thank the state for this $2 million MassWorks grant that’s going to finally improve traffic and pedestrian signaling in this area to make the great project we know it will be.”
These improvements include updated traffic signals and coordination with lights on the Haverhill side of the bridge; realigning Laurel Avenue with South Elm Street to reduce open pavement areas, driver confusion and pedestrian crossing lengths and provide additional separation from the Blossom Street; realigning Railroad Avenue with South Elm Street to improve transit bus maneuverability constrained by the existing bridge abutments; constructing bicycle lanes to provide a direct connection from the surrounding area to the Bradford Rail Trail; reconstructing sidewalks and installing an enhanced pedestrian crossing; install traffic signals at two intersections to clearly define driver rights-of-way and providing exclusive pedestrian crossing phasing; and fixing deterioration of the existing road surface.
Procopio bought the bulk of the land—a city parcel that once was home to the former Ornsteen Heel Factory—and lots where the former Skateland and abandoned gas station were located to make the project a reality. Besides the mixed-use building, the city will receive a 60,000 square foot outdoor area to be known as “First Nations Park.”
Last year, Haverhill city councilors signed off on project developer Michael Procopio’s change, reducing the housing and retail project to a single building.
“The overall footprint of the buildings shrunk by nearly 30%, going from two building to a single building. Nothing else changes. The unit count does not change. The building height does not change. The park does not change. The roadway, infrastructure improvements do not change. All that we’re dealing with is a change to a single building,” he explained.
The project will be five stories high with 290 housing units that include a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, more than 6,000 square feet of retail space and a 1.4 acre public waterfront park.
The developer said Tuesday “The Beck” is well underway and slightly ahead of schedule. It is expected to open in the spring of 2025.