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."
The area's long-running parking shortage has been made worse by large numbers of train riders who park their cars on city streets for long stretches of time. The garage is expected to alleviate that problem while providing ample parking for those who live and work near the train station.
Downtown also has hundreds of new apartments and condominiums built and under construction, and several popular restaurants and lounges that draw crowds.
Dempsey noted the state has provided millions of dollars in recent years to help revitalize downtown Haverhill, including money for the new boardwalk opening this month along the Merrimack River.
Dempsey credited state Sen. Steven Baddour, D-Methuen, for also lobbying state officials for the garage money.
Baddour said the grant is an example of a variety of people working together — state legislators, city officials, business leaders like the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce and the governor's office.
"This is a huge shot in the arm for Haverhill's downtown economic development,'' he said. "It's been a long time coming.''
The facility is being designed by Desman Associates. The design is scheduled for completion by March 1, the mayor said.
The governor is set to announce the grant Wednesday at an event that is also to celebrate the completion of a portion of the Hamel Mills Lofts complex. That housing development is located in a series of renovated factory buildings that formerly housed the L.H. Hamel Leather Company. The state provided millions worth of historic tax credits to help Forest City Residential Group build the complex.
The event is set to begin with an address from Patrick at 3 p.m. in the courtyard at 40 Locke St.
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