It's called Olympia Square, regal in name but hardly in appearance.
The square has several problems - empty storefronts, litter and graffiti, even drugs and prostitution, according to police and merchants there. As the resurgence of downtown progresses, this outlying square needs help, city and business leaders said.
City Planning Director William Pillsbury calls it a gateway to downtown where Winter Street, which also is Route 97, crosses Emerson and White streets. Millions of dollars are being invested in downtown and nearby on more than 800 new apartments and condominiums, and the city wants the gateways to downtown to look good, Pillsbury said.
One concern in Olympia Square is the large Pentucket Building at 127 Winter St. The building once housed Bannon's Spa and now is falling into disrepair, Pillsbury said. The building has four empty storefronts.
"That is critical property because of its prominence and location," Pillsbury said. "It is really on the verge of being abandoned."
The square has some successful anchor businesses, such as Shoe City Hardware next to the Bannon's Spa building. Next to the hardware store is an Army National Guard recruitment center, and across the street is Bradford Seafood. The Emmaus House shelter for homeless people also is in the square, as is a towing business. The Greek Orthodox Church and some small specialty stores are around the corner from the square.
The Pentucket Building, built in 1916, is owned by Joseph Errico of Somerville, according to city assessing records. It is valued at $1.1 million and contains 24 units - a mix of residential apartments and the first-floor storefronts.
Pillsbury said he has been pitching the Pentucket Building property to potential developers as a great opportunity, but no one has bought the building.
Two businesses operate in the building - a barbershop and Yomarys Beauty Salon. Yomarys owner Yomary Gutierrez said she loses business because of the appearance of the area and prostitutes and drug dealers who sometimes loiter on the streets.
"We have drug dealers around our corner. We have hookers around there," Gutierrez said. "Some of the customers are afraid to come here because of the people who hang around there."
Shoe City Hardware owner Edward Chernesky, who has done business there for 36 years, said the square needs help from the city and the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce.
He said he is concerned about the square's appearance and wants the Pentucket Building upgraded and maintained.
"We need someone promoting Winter Street," Chernesky said of the Route 97 corridor.
In 2002, Bradford Seafood owner Dimitrios "Jimmy" Argyriadis asked the City Council to name the corner of White, Emerson and Winter streets Olympia Square. He moved his business there in October of that year.
Argyriadis, a Greek immigrant, said he wanted to name the square to bring pride to an area that has been plagued by crime for at least 15 years. He said the Olympia name would honor people of all nationalities, as the Olympic Games do.
He said crime has dropped in the square in the five years he has been there, but there are still problems. He is considering organizing the area's merchants and demanding from the city that more be done to beautify the area.
"If you don't act, nothing will happen," he said.
Empty storefronts in Olympia Square
* Four in the Pentucket Building, 127 Winter St., home of the former Bannon's Spa
* 136 Winter St., next to the Naya American & Spanish Grocery
* 143 Winter St., former home of Hannah International Foods
* 31 White St., former home of Morning Glory Breakfast restaurant