Haverhill City Council last night gave the green light for construction of a 290-unit apartment complex on the River Merrimack opposite Bradford commuter rail station.
Key to city council support for Lynnfield’s Procopio Company project was a proposed nearly $ 2 million realignment and signage of adjacent streets. The complex consists of two five-story buildings and a 3.2-acre public park adjacent to the Comeau Bridge on the site of the former Ornsteen Heel factory. It will also include land currently occupied by Skateland and an abandoned gas station.
Mayor James J. Fiorentini said the park, which will be donated to the city after its construction, will turn what is now a degraded area into a welcoming entrance to Bradford.
“The waterfront park will be a great gateway to Bradford. It will be the first thing people see when they enter Bradford and it will give an amazing impression to people entering the city or this area of the city. It will include a public playground, a walkway around the water, a rest area, benches, a new dog park, ”he said, approving the project.
The park will also include a children’s playground, amphitheater and launch pad for kayaks. The buildings will include 30 studios, 148 one-bedroom apartments, 21 one-bedroom den with 91 two-bedroom units and a river-front restaurant on the first floor.
One of the main concerns regarding the planned development has been traffic congestion. The region has long been a problematic area, especially at peak times. Michael Procopio, CEO, told the board that his company takes these concerns very seriously.
“We came up with a major infrastructure plan, specially designed and thought out to address the traffic congestion and safety issues at Railroad Ave., South Elm and the lower approach to the Comeau Bridge, linked to the signage at the end of Washington Street. bridge and the way these signals are synchronized is really inefficiently passing traffic today, ”he said.
This plan, which was developed using $ 1.95 million from the state’s Massworks grant program, includes the realignment of Laurel Avenue and South Elm Street, the realignment of Railroad Avenue and South Elm, and the realignment of Blossom Street and South Elm Street. It will also rebuild sidewalks for better pedestrian protection, build cycle lanes connecting to the Bradford Rail Trail and install additional traffic light controls. The plan also uses updated technology to help synchronize traffic with minimal waiting at intersections.
The project, which has received the blessing of economic and planning director William Pillsbury Jr. and city engineer John H. Pettis III, among others, is expected to generate $ 19 million for the city over the next 20 years. It will also generate several hundred jobs that Procopio has promised will be made available to residents of Haverhill whenever possible.
Council granted the special permit with a number of conditions, including snow removal plans, installation of call booths on the section of the rail trail adjacent to the property, and a pledge to help improve the condition. from the nearby Wood School playground.
The final vote was 8 to 1, with Council President Melinda E. Barrett opposing saying that while she supported the project, she felt uncomfortable with the number of waivers it required.