Urban Land Institute-Boston, MassDevelopment Address Downtown Haverhill Development
November 30, 2011
As part of a partnership between MassDevelopment and the Boston District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to bring expertise in real estate planning, design, finance, and marketing to Gateway Cities, a panel of real estate experts convened in Haverhill yesterday to develop creative solutions for developing the Merrimack Street end of downtown. After the daylong Technical Assistance Panel (TAP), during which experts visited Merrimack Street, Washington Street, Wall Street, the Haverhill MBTA/Amtrak station, recent residential redevelopment, and the Orenstein site, the panel offered several ideas for redevelopment: complete the downtown riverwalk, create stronger north-south connections, re-envision parking, create a cultural anchor, and construct a gateway to the Merrimack River.
“The City of Haverhill and Mayor Fiorentini kept an open mind to creative solutions that would help address development roadblocks in this section of the downtown,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “We hope the recommendations to make use of one of Haverhill’s gems – the Merrimack River â€“ help City officials in their continuing efforts to generate vibrant, mixed-use growth in one of the Commonwealth's oldest communities.”
The City of Haverhill has successfully employed transit-oriented development strategies in the Washington Street area. The Merrimack Street corridor poses more of a challenge to the goal of mixed-use, mixed-income development because of a unique mix of buildings in that area and a flood wall behind those buildings that blocks a riverfront view. The City sought answers to what strategic marketing approaches would attract developers, the type of zoning or regulatory framework that would help the project, and financing and structural tools that could advance riverfront development.
“Haverhill’s Merrimack riverfront is an important resource for the city and ULI Boston’s panel has put forward creative short and long- term ideas for developing and activating the riverfront,” said ULI Boston Executive Director Stephanie Wasser. “There is real potential for, and positive energy around Merrimack Street that can build off Haverhill’s strong public leadership and growing population and areas of downtown that have already been revitalized.”
Near-term revitalization and development action recommendations include a parking management and capital investment plan, collective property marketing for redevelopment, a comprehensive permitting and zoning structure, streetscape improvements, public financing options, and river access. The panel also recommended the City explore anchors for the Woolworth Building and continue to engage local organizations for revitalization efforts.
“This was a great event with a lot of energy and new ideas for the City of Haverhill,” said Mayor James J. Fiorentini. “We intend to take immediate steps to amend our zoning laws to implement some of the excellent ideas at this forum. Thank you to ULI and MassDevelopment for supplying us with this opportunity.”
The Urban Land Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit research and education organization supported by its members. The Boston District Council, with nearly 1,100 members, holds a prominent spot in the Urban Land Institute’s top five District Councils globally. ULI Boston provides a unique membership opportunity crossing all sectors, disciplines, and product types within the real estate industry. Using this interdisciplinary approach, ULI examines land use issues, impartially reports findings, and convenes forums to find solutions.
MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2011, MassDevelopment financed or managed more than 300 projects generating investment of $3.8 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are projected to create more than 10,000 jobs (2,547 permanent and 8,129 construction), and build or rehabilitate more than 1,000 residential units.