EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 5, 2014

Haverhill building rebound endures

Council to consider proposals for apartments, single-family homes

By Shawn Regan

---- — HAVERHILL — Developers have filed two proposals to build multi-unit housing projects in the city, further evidence the local real estate and home-building markets are on the upswing.

The proposals — one for downtown apartments and the other for single-family homes — follow a long period of dormant development activity that began when the real estate market began plummeting around 2007. Activity began to percolate last year with rising real estate values, an uptick in home sales and a handful of residential and commercial projects pitched in the city.

The first project the council is set to begin considering Tuesday is for a vacant downtown building at 34-47 Washington St. that until last year was home to Surplus Office Supply company.

Dave Traggorth is proposing up to 19 residential units and approximately 4,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor of the building, according to paperwork on file at the city clerk’s office.

Mayor James Fiorentini said the mixed-use proposal is exactly the kind of project he wants downtown and that the plan has his full support.

The mayor said prior housing proposals for the Surplus Office Supply building fell through due to lack of parking for tenants. But he said parking is no longer a problem there due to the proximity of the new Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority parking garage in Railroad Square. The developers already have an agreement with the MVRTA to lease spaces for future tenants of the development in the garage, Fiorentini said.

Exterior and interior renovations to the building are also part of the project, which requires a special permit from the council to go forward. The council is expected to refer the proposal to the Planning Board for a public hearing Feb. 11.

The second proposal is for 10 single-family homes on Scotland Hill Road by Michael Crowe and George Charest. The so-called “cluster residential development” proposal needs council approval because the developers want to build the homes on less land than would normally be allowed. The council is expected to schedule a Planning Board hearing for March 11.

Fiorentini said it has been several years since anyone has proposed a development of new single-family homes in the city.

The council is also considering several other developments proposed in recent months.

The owner of the 85 Water St. parcel recently filed a proposal to build 59 luxury condominiums at the site of the former Friend’s Landing nightclub, which was demolished in 2007.

Next month, the council is schedule to take up Paul Arsenault’s request for a special permit to convert a building at 12-13 High St. to up to seven rental apartments. It was formerly a dual-use building, with a retail store on the first floor and apartments above, but has been vacant for many years.

The Lexington by Vantage company is also planning to build an upscale 60-unit hotel on Amesbury Road near Northern Essex Community College. The 3.6-acre property is just off Interstate 495’s exit 52, in the northern part of the city. The proposal encountered opposition by some neighbors last year, but city officials said the developers still hope to go forward.