EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 12, 2013

Haverhill, property owners plan to lure business

Bring together real estate brokers, merchants needing a home

By Mike LaBella
mlabella@eagletribune.com

---- — HAVERHILL — The city became a matchmaker yesterday — business style — and the likely result is one company coming to Haverhill to take over a property here.

The city held a developers conference for property owners to show off their commercial buildings and land to businesses looking for a home.

City officials said Haverhill is open for business, whether it involves retail, research and development, or manufacturing.

Mayor James Fiorentini held the conference at 90 Washington St. to help commercial building and land owners market their properties. The conference, held in partnership with the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, was attended by about 30 people, including commercial real estate brokers, commercial land owners and potential tenants.

William Pillsbury, director of planning and economic development for the city, said the conference resulted in one “very positive and potential match” between a property owner and a tenant.

“We hope this match will result in a new tenancy,” he said, but refused to give details so the property owner and business have a chance to privately work out a deal.

A variety of business properties is available in Haverhill.

They include buildings and land downtown and along the Merrimack River, as well as industrial park land.

Brokers showcasing their properties included Gene O’Neill of Northway Realty. He talked about commercial opportunities in the downtown, including the building at 87 Washington St. which formerly housed the Trattoria Al Forno restaurant. O’Neill said the space is suited to a variety of possible commercial uses.

Lisa Fitzpatrick of Kifor Realty discussed the Burgess Business Center on Essex Street and the variety of different space size options available there for start-up companies or larger businesses.

Steve DeSisto of the Caldwell Banker real estate company said a downtown building at the corner of Wingate and Essex streets offers mixed-use opportunities, with residential space on the upper floors and retail/commercial space on the street level.

When it comes to green energy, Pillsbury said one of the most notable examples in the city is the Leewood Building in the Newark Street industrial park off Rosemont Street. Building owner Peter Schwarz talked about the property’s green energy features, which include Haverhill’s largest rooftop solar array.

The $1.5 million array was turned on last summer and provides up to 95 percent of the electrical needs of Swix Sport USA, the building’s largest tenant.

In addition to the 1,166 solar panels stretched out over 54,000 square feet of the roof, Schwarz noted other efficiency upgrades including infrared warehouse heaters, motion sensor warehouse lighting, replacement of all larger windows and low-flow bathroom fixtures.

During a ribbon cutting ceremony held Sept. 13 at the site, Schwarz said he was proud to take his father’s 40-year-old manufacturing building and turn it into one of the region’s most energy-efficient facilities.

Schwarz said he worked with local solar vendors, including Nexamp of North Andover, which installed the system, as well as PanelClaw of North Andover and Solectria Renewables of Lawrence, which were among the project’s suppliers.

At yesterday’s conference, Schwarz talked about available space in his building and future commercial opportunities there. He emphasized the green technologies used in his building.

Pillsbury said the conference was one of many ongoing marketing efforts intended to promote the city as a place to do business.

“A little over a week ago, officials with the state’s office of Housing and Community Development took a bus tour of the city for similar purposes,” he said.

He said the city plans to hold a larger similar event in partnership with the Greater Haverhill Chamber.

“We hope to bring in state officials to describe alternative state resources that are available to assist businesses,” Pillsbury said.

Fiorentini said the city held the conference to give developers the opportunity to not only discuss available properties, but also the opportunity to view them.

“By connecting each piece of the puzzle, there is an opportunity for a project to be developed,” he said. “We know there is tremendous opportunity for growth in Haverhill.”