Lupoli Officially Kicks Off $160 Million Downtown Haverhill Redevelopment Project

Gathered for the formal groundbreaking ceremony were, from left, City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan, developer Salvatore N. Lupoli, state Rep. Andy X. Vargas, City Councilor and Mayor-elect Melinda E. Barrett, Mayor James J. Fiorentini and Councilors Joseph J. Bevilacqua and Shaun P. Toohey. (WHAV News photograph.)

Developer Salvatore N. Lupoli’s $160 million redevelopment of about five acres in downtown Haverhill formally commenced Wednesday morning with a groundbreaking ceremony.

Lupoli, his crew and city officials gathered in front of the Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck with shovels in hand to mark the start of the project. Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini described the development as the capstone of his career.

“I’m very, very proud to be here today. This project is the greatest project to come to our city. All of the money and the Lupoli investment is going to make a new Haverhill on Merrimack Street,” he said.

Lupoli’s project, approved by the City Council near the end of 2021, was one of five proposals the city received to redevelop the parcel. The developer paid $1 million for the land and promised to build a more than 600-car parking garage, food pavilion and housing. In a separate transaction, Pentucket Bank joined the project with plans for a new branch at White’s Corner.

City Councilor and incoming Mayor Melinda E. Barrett pointed out her family operated Barrett’s Menswear for many years to the left of the existing garage. She said the store, like the rest of the street, suffered through many failed efforts to rejuvenate downtown.

“We lived through urban renewal—my family did—and then we saw the dustbowl for years and this white elephant of a garage for many years. It was open. It was closed. It was condemned. It was open,” she recalled.

She said putting the nearly five-acre parcel back on the tax rolls will also help create a desired 18-hour economy downtown.

Cleaning up the aftermath of urban renewal was Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr. One of his first city responsibilities was getting the parking garage—condemned while it was still under construction—completed during the early 1980s.

“This is the opportunity we’ve been talking about so long to retake downtown Haverhill from the evils of urban renewal. Urban renewal, we all know, was a failed federal policy and we have an opportunity now with private investment coupled with public investment to be able to retake our downtown and reverse some of the effects of urban renewal,” he said.

Pillsbury’s boss back then was Planning Director and now City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua, who said he has seen Lupoli’s success in other areas. “Sal Lupoli transformed the City of Lawrence during its worst times and, not only that, but also in projects he’s done in Lowell and other communities. When I brought Sal to meet the mayor of the City of Haverhill—I want to commend mayor Fiorentini because he gave him complete enthusiasm and support from the City of Haverhill,” he said.

Lupoli said redevelopment is moving forward despite high interest rates and many banks not lending money. He said, in other cases, “When that happens, Gateway Cities suffer the most because banks look and they say, ‘Why take a chance?’”

Terracotta from the Daggett Building near the top of the Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck.

Lupoli also told WHAV he will take steps to preserve the many pieces of vintage terracotta that dot Goecke Deck. The red clay designs once adorned the Daggett Building, home of Grad’s Specialty Shop, on the same site. Former City Planner Richard B. Swain stored the terracotta in the attic of his own home to ensure its preservation in the late 1970s.

Comments are closed.