EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

December 1, 2013

Rehab of vacant building proposed

But councilors argue about number of apartments, parking spaces

HAVERHILL — A proposal to turn a deteriorated and vacant building in the city’s Mount Washington neighborhood into an apartment complex will go before City Council tomorrow night.

Paul Arsenault, the developer and co-owner of the property, is seeking permission from the council to convert the building at 12-13 High St. 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 project has won approval from city planners, but ran into problems at a prior council meeting.

Councilor William Macek said he would not support the proposal until he receives more specific information about the plan. He said he does not believe there is enough parking on the site or space in the building for seven apartments. Macek also said paperwork on the project was incomplete.

“It will be a problem property if we let this go forward in its current form,” Macek said at a recent council meeting, adding that he believes the High Street property is suitable for no more than four apartments.

“I don’t want to take it down,” Macek told Arsenault at the meeting, while offering to discuss his concerns with the developer after the meeting. “I just want to make sure it’s a project that’s good for the city.”

Arsenault said his plan includes 14 parking spaces and that he needs only 11 spaces under current zoning rules.

Economic Development Director William Pillsbury said the project has the potential to have a positive impact on a impoverished section of the city that is near downtown.

“We see this proposal as an investment in one of our target neighborhoods that’s going to upgrade a very visible property,” Pillsbury said. “When a private investor wants to fix up a vacant building and bring it back to life, we try to assist them.”

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