EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

March 11, 2014

New school, more downtown growth

Mayor's speech to highlight Woolworth, Hunking projects

HAVERHILL — Mayor James Fiorentini will talk about several large projects coming to the downtown side of the Merrimack River and announce a modest one on the Bradford side of the waterway at his annual State of the City speech tonight.

He said he will also discuss the city’s plan to replace the deteriorated Hunking Middle School with a new school in Bradford. The city plans to hold an election in June, at which voters will be asked to pay the city’s $24 million share of the $61.5 million new building.

The largest of the downtown projects, announced last month by a team that includes the Greater Haverhill Foundation and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs, centers around the demolition of the long-vacant Woolworth building at downtown’s eastern gateway. The deteriorated art deco-style structure is to be replaced with a seven-story building called Harbor Place that is to include a restaurant, office and retail space and a satellite campus for UMass Lowell overlooking the river.

The larger sweeping Merrimack Street Ventures development is expected to eventually include the demolition of several more large Merrimack Street buildings. Plans call for them to be replaced with mixed-use developments with ground floor retail and apartments and offices on upper floors.

The developers have said they plan to begin demolishing the old Woolworth building this spring. Fiorentini said he expects several people involved with the project to join him at his speech, but that he was unsure if any new details about the scope or timing of the massive project would be revealed tonight.

Fiorentini, in his record sixth term as Haverhill’s mayor, will deliver the annual address to the City Council at the start of its regular 7 p.m. meeting in City Hall. The speech is usually given to a packed room that includes the city’s legislative delegation, local officials and supporters of the mayor.

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