EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


September 28, 2009

Haverhill gets final $1.7 million for parking garage

Construction to start in mid-2010

HAVERHILL — The state has agreed to provide the final $1.7 million the city needs to build the parking garage that is being counted on to solve downtown's parking crunch, state Rep. Brian Dempsey said.

The federal government has already committed $7.8 million for the $10-million facility that is expected to include at least three levels and between 350 and 450 spaces. The federal money requires a 20 percent local match, which the state money accomplishes, said Dempsey, D-Haverhill.

The city has also secured about $500,000 in private money from developers who want to lease spaces in the garage for tenants of nearby apartment complexes, including the 305-unit Hamel Mills Lofts and a project that is being developed by an affiliate of the Boston Archdiocese in the Hayes Building.

The housing projects and garage are in the shadow of the downtown train station.

On Wednesday, Gov. Deval Patrick is coming to Haverhill to officially announce the city has received state funding for the garage in the form of an economic development grant, Dempsey said.

The parking garage, which is being built at 57 Granite St. just off Railroad Square, is to be operated by the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority.

Construction is expected to begin in May or June and take about 18 months, Mayor James Fiorentini said. A late 2011 opening is anticipated, he said.

An environmental cleanup of the city-owned, 47-space parking lot in Railroad Square, where the garage is to be built, is scheduled to begin Oct. 19. The cleanup is expected to take about a month, and then the property will be returned to public parking until the city is ready to break ground on the garage project.

Earlier this month, Dempsey said he was in talks with the Patrick administration for the state money.

"This grant creatively rewards pro-growth communities that are leveraging large amounts of private capital to support jobs, economic development and housing," Dempsey said. "The garage is a key piece of the ongoing development of downtown, and demonstrates that Governor Patrick and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki support that."

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