EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


November 22, 2013

State gives $5M to city, $7.9M to college

Governor says money to boost downtown, help NECC campuses

HAVERHILL — He came bearing gifts — nearly $13 million in all.

Northern Essex Community College and the city of Haverhill will share $12.9 million announced by Gov. Deval Patrick yesterday at a Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce luncheon that had the feel of a farewell tour.

Patrick, whose second four-year term expires next year, has said he will not seek re-election and is looking forward to landing a high-paying job in the private sector.

Business leaders, educators and the region's top officials and politicians packed Michael's Function Hall in Haverhill yesterday afternoon to hear the governor's remarks.

Northern Essex Community College received $7 million to modernize the Spurk Building on the college's Haverhill campus and a $900,000 MassWorks grant to connect the college's Allied Health Center in Lawrence to that city's downtown.

Haverhill received $5 million to spur a major private redevelopment project at the eastern edge of downtown that includes several high-profile but blighted and under-used buildings on the banks of the Merrimack River.

A group that includes the Greater Haverhill Foundation and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has bought several Merrimack Street properties, including the Ocasio and Newman’s Furniture buildings and the long-vacant Woolworth building on the north side of the Basiliere Bridge.

Mayor James Fiorentini said the $5 million will be used to build a boardwalk and other public areas between the buildings and the Merrimack River. The enhancements are designed to make the properties more attractive for mixed-use projects that are expected to include professional offices and businesses at street level and market-rate homes on upper floors.

Fiorentini noted previous money from the state under Patrick's watch was instrumental in building the city's downtown transportation center and parking garage, which helped support the construction of more than 500 new apartments and condominiums in old factory buildings in the area.

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