HAVERHILL — The city will receive a $1.95 million state grant to help turn the site of an old factory into a sprawling riverfront complex with housing, a public park and retail businesses.

Mayor James Fiorentini said the grant will help pay for traffic improvements and other infrastructure upgrades to help transform the long-vacant Ornsteen Heel factory property on the Bradford side of the Merrimack River.

The project was among this year's MassWorks grant recipients announced Thursday by Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and state Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy.

Fiorentini said Haverhill has been trying for decades to redevelop the 4.8-acre blighted site located across from the Bradford commuter rail station, having solicited bids from developers four times in the past 20 years.

After competitive bidding this year, the city accepted a proposal from the Procopio Companies, a real estate developer based in Lynnfield, for a project that will create 290 market-rate housing units; 10,000 square feet for retail businesses and restaurants; and 33,000 square feet for new public amenities — including parks, a playground, an amphitheater, a kayak launch, and improved connections to the western end of the Bradford Rail Trail.

The mayor said the developer is moving ahead with the project and so far has gone before the Conservation Commission. The next step is to request a special permit from the City Council. 

"This grant will finally allow us to unlock that land, and we're hoping it will allow the developer to come up with some innovative solutions," Fiorentini said of the $1.95 million from the state aimed at traffic issues surrounding the property. "We thank our entire legislative delegation and especially (state Rep.) Linda Dean Campbell, who went above and beyond for her district."

Campbell said the project will have many benefits for Haverhill, including creating jobs and housing within walking and biking distance of public transportation such as MBTA trains, new businesses, and new outdoor spaces for the public to enjoy.

"I am grateful to the city for their persistence and to our Haverhill state legislative delegation for advocating for this state grant to move the project forward," Campbell said. "The new complex will include access to all of the things that make Haverhill great — local businesses, recreation, our rail trail, our river, and public transportation."

The complex will be connected to the Haverhill community and surrounding region through access to the Bradford commuter rail station, the rail trail, the Merrimack River and the Comeau Bridge, which leads to downtown.

Officials said the project will yield an estimated $19.2 million in taxes and other revenue for the city over the next 20 years, while also creating 280 temporary construction jobs and 20 to 30 permanent retail and restaurant jobs, for which Haverhill residents will be given priority.

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