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July 8, 2014

City gets $10M for river boardwalk

Public river access is part of Woolworth site project

HAVERHILL — The city is getting another boost in its efforts to resurrect the downtown, this time $10 million to build a river boardwalk.

The walkway will reach from the Basiliere Bridge to an existing boardwalk at the other end of downtown behind Haverhill Bank, linking the area so visitors can walk that entire stretch of the Merrimack River.

Gov. Deval Patrick and other state officials were in Haverhill yesterday to announce the grant, which brings the state's total investment in a project at the eastern end of downtown to $25 million, said state Rep. Brian Dempsey, D-Haverhill, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Officials at yesterday's event also announced demolition of the old Woolworth building, vacant for 40 years, will likely begin in September, clearing the way for construction of two new buildings. They are the seven-story Harbor Place, which will house a UMass Lowell satellite campus, and a second building with stores or a restaurant on the first floor and 80 market-rate apartments on upper floors.

Some details of the project were announced in early February, but yesterday's event highlighted other developments. They include an announcement that Pentucket Bank will demolish its older building in front of the Merrimack Street parking deck and move its headquarters into the Harbor Place building. The space created by that demolition is expected to be used for parking spaces, Dempsey said.

Officials said the Harbor Place building will also have Haverhill Community TV as a tenant. The building has commitments for about 90 percent of its commercial space, officials said.

The project is aimed at revitalizing the eastern gateway to downtown, in much the same way the western end of the inner-city has been boosted by new apartments, condos and businesses such as restaurants.

The project will allow demolition of the deteriorated Woolworth building at the eastern gateway. The building has been an eyesore for years.

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