EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 13, 2013

Vacant building to be revamped as home for 7 families

Would restore home, add affordable units in impoverished neighborhood

By Shawn Regan
sregan@eagletribune.com

---- — HAVERHILL — A distressed and long vacant building in the city’s Mount Washington neighborhood may soon spring back to life as a renovated apartment complex for as many as seven families.

Paul Arsenault, who is listed on the proposal as the building’s co-owner and contractor, is seeking permission from City 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 at least five years, city officials said.

According to city tax records, the property is assessed for $283,000 and is owned by 13 High Street Realty Trust, Kerri Fonduto trustee. City Assessor Stephen Gullo said the property will be reassessed after it is renovated.

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.”

Arsenault’s proposal says he is open to reserving some of the apartments to low-income renters, but that he hopes to retain the option of converting the units to for-sale condominiums in the future.

According to the proposal, the renovated building will retain its “family-style look” on the front and consist of three, 3-bedroom units and four, 2-bedroom units. It is to include a laundry and storage areas for tenants.

“Please consider our proposal and allow us to make this building an example on how to improve the neighborhood,” Arsenault wrote on his application to the council for a special permit. “We would like to continue making Haverhill a great place to live.”

The Planning Board has scheduled a public hearing on the plan Oct. 9 and the council is scheduled to consider Nov. 9. Council approval is required for all multi-unit housing projects.