HAVERHILL — Even before developers break ground, the city is already preparing for increased activity downtown.
Mayor James Fiorentini will ask the City Council tonight for permission to declare 100 parking spaces in the Merrimack Street parking deck surplus and to eventually lease them for use by Harbor Place, a large-scale development that will replace the Woolworth building.
Fiorentini said that with the exception of snowy days, there are about 100 unused spaces between the upper and lower levels of the Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Parking Deck, located at the eastern end of Merrimack Street.
The mayor also plans to ask the Council for permission to transfer $5,000 from the city’s free cash account and use it to hire a parking consultant to help develop the plan and find additional parking in that area of downtown.
“We want to do everything we can to support this project,” the mayor said about Harbor Place.
The downtown Woolworth building, vacant for more than 40 years, is poised to become home to a satellite campus for UMass Lowell and businesses such as restaurants and stores overlooking the Merrimack River.
For years, a lack of parking hindered development of the Woolworth building, which is located at the corner of Merrimack and Main streets, with the Merrimack River directly behind it.
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 earlier in the year.
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.