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Haverhill

February 4, 2014

Long-vacant Woolworth property to get campus, businesses on river

Long-vacant Woolworth property to get campus, businesses on river

HAVERHILL — Finally.

The downtown Woolworth building, vacant for more than 40 years, will get new life.

It will become home to a satellite campus for UMass Lowell and businesses such as restaurants and stores overlooking the Merrimack River.

Demolition of the dilapidated Woolworth building is scheduled for late spring and will herald the start of major redevelopment of the eastern gateway to downtown.

In its place, a team that includes the Greater Haverhill Foundation and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs plans to develop the first of several mixed-use buildings along the river.

The plan was unveiled yesterday.

The signature tenant of the seven-story development that is to replace the Woolworth building, to be called Harbor Place, will be a satellite campus for UMass Lowell. The college plans to occupy the second and third floors of the new, glass-enclosed building, UMass Lowell Chancellor Martin Meehan said.

Restaurants and retails shops will occupy the first floor of Harbor Place and there will be office space on upper floors, said Lisa Alberghini, president of the Planning Office for Urban Affairs.

Alberghini said construction of the $18 million building is expected to begin in the fall and take 18 to 24 months. The job is expected to generate about 150 construction jobs, according to a press release about the project.

The entire sweeping Merrimack Street Ventures development is likely to top $80 million, officials said. Later phases include the demolition of several more large buildings on Merrimack Street which will be replaced by mixed-use projects with ground floor retail and hundreds of condominiums and apartments on upper floors.

Other buildings to be demolished starting in the spring include the Ocasio and Newman’s Furniture buildings, as well as several more buildings heading west, city officials said.

“This is going to be a transformational, life-style changing development,” Alberghini said, noting her agency has built 31 residential and commercial projects in the state. “It’s going to be a game-changer for downtown Haverhill that’s going to make the river come alive. The idea is that this is going to trigger additional investment up and down the river.”

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