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5.1.14 Conomo Point Sales in Essex, MA

According to the Gloucester Times, following a Town Meeting vote, four Conomo Point properties could be soon sold to private owners.  Selling these properties (there is a total of 8) allows the town to move forward with its plan to open up Clammer’s Beach, effectively creating more public beach access for the town. Properties proposed for sale include parcels 19/97, 19/99, 19/101 and 19/102; they are proposed to go to the current land lessees who own the structures there.

Along with selling the four properties, a conceptual drawing passed out at the meeting shows Clammer’s Beach opened up to the road with parcels 19/95 and 19/96 as open land. The beach — twice as big as before, according to Selectwoman Lisa O’Donnell — would include a boat ramp, an adjacent park and a kayak ramp for residents.

Selling the four properties would result in $1 million in revenue for the town, Finance Committee Chairman Jeffrey Soulard said, adding that it would also bring in real estate tax each year.   Essex’ total operating budget is $15.5 million.

Here is the Essex Warrant following the town meeting:

Read the entire Gloucester Times article.

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4.17.14 Newburyport Forward’s Vision for Newburyport Waterfront

Newburyport Forward's vision of the East Lot, looking west toward Waterfront Park.       Newburyport Forward's vision of the West Lot, looking north from the bottom of Green Street.

The Daily News reports that Newburyport Forward, a loosely organized community group, has produced its vision for Newburyport’s 4.2 riverfront acres owned by the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority.  The concept will call for 3 new buildings, including one that resembles the historic, long-departed Wolfe Tavern.

Newburyport will host an open forum where residents will be invited to bring forth their ideas on what should be done with the much-discussed central waterfront.  In fact, city officials will permit display of some images from Newburyport Forward’s portfolio when citizens gather in the parish hall of Central Congregational Church on Titcomb Street beginning at 8:30am on Saturday, May 10, 2014.

The tentative Newburyport Forward vision focuses on three possible structures: a visitors center, a WolfeTavern-like building that could include lodging, and a marketplace building that could house shops and/or restaurants.  The Wolfe Tavern was a landmark brick building that stood on State Street near the Newburyport Public Library.  It was torn down in the 1950s.

Until recently, the five-member NRA had control of the future of the central waterfront. But three members have departed from the panel, leaving it without a quorum.

Read the entire Daily News article.

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3.14.14 Economic Stimulus for Gateway Cities – Salem, Peabody, Haverhill, Lawrence

The Salem News reports that Governor Deval Patrick has proposed a multi-year, $100 million economic plan that focuses attention on the state’s economically challenged “Gateway” cities, which would fund large-scale redevelopment projects, market-rate housing and help clean up old manufacturing sites.

Cities like Salem, Peabody, Haverhill and Lawrence would benefit from the stimulus, which would create a new $11 million fund for major redevelopment projects specifically in the Gateway cities, to be overseen by MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency.  MassINC has called for a state infusion of more than $1.7 billion over the next decade to stimulate growth in the state’s 26 Gateway cities.  A recent study by the group suggested the funding would create $3.4 billion in new development and create about 80,000 jobs.

Funding would also be set aside in the bill for the state’s Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, which cities like Lawrence and Salem have used to redevelop old industrial and manufacturing sites that have become polluted.

Read the entire Salem News article.

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2.18.14 Long-vacant Woolworth Property in Haverhill to Become Riverfront Campus/Business/Shops

 Harbor Place in Haverhill, MA

The Eagle-Tribune (joyfully) reported that the Woolworth building in Haverhill – vacant for more than 40 years – will now have a dramatic renaissance.  It will become home to a satellite campus for UMass Lowell and a home for businesses such as restaurants and stores overlooking the Merrimack River.

Demolition of the dilapidated Woolworth building is scheduled for late spring and will herald the start of major redevelopment of the eastern gateway to downtown, located on the corner of Merrimack Street and Main Street (Route 125).

The Woolworth building is being replaced by several mixed-use buildings along the river, the first of which will be a seven-story development called Harbor Place, will be a satellite campus for UMass Lowell.  The college plans to occupy the second and third floors of the new, glass-enclosed building, UMass Lowell Chancellor Martin Meehan said.

Restaurants and retails shops will occupy the first floor of Harbor Place and there will be office space on upper floors, said Lisa Alberghini, president of the Planning Office for Urban Affairs.  Alberghini said construction of the $18 million building is expected to begin in the fall and take 18 to 24 months. The job is expected to generate about 150 construction jobs, according to a press release about the project.

The entire sweeping Merrimack Street Ventures development is likely to top $80 million, officials said. Later phases include the demolition of several more large buildings on Merrimack Street which will be replaced by mixed-use projects with ground floor retail and hundreds of condominiums and apartments on upper floors.  Other buildings to be demolished starting in the spring include the Ocasio and Newman’s Furniture buildings, as well as several more buildings heading west, city officials said.

The first phase of the project includes a pedestrian corridor to a new Merrimack River boardwalk and public plaza. The corridor and plaza are to be built on a raised platform that will allow direct access to the river while also providing underground parking. There are also plans for a public boat dock with access to the river, according to the plan.

Woolworth building in Haverhill, MA

The yellow, art deco-style Woolworth building (above) opened in 1949 and has been vacant since the former department store closed in 1969.  The redevelopment of the property will reveal views of the water that have been blocked for decades by the massive concrete flood wall that protects downtown from the river in the event of a catastrophic flood.

Read the entire Eagle-Tribune article.

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2.11.14 Seafood Company Would Bring 225 Jobs to Blackburn Park in Gloucester

 Former Good Harbor Fillet facility in Blackburn Industrial Park in Gloucester, MA

According to the Salem News, an Illinois-based seafood processor and wholesaler is moving into Blackburn Park industrial park Gloucester to operate a processing plant in the Blackburn Industrial Park.  The new facility is expected to bring 125 full-time positions, 100-plus seasonal positions and as much as $7.5 million in new capital investments to the site of the former Good Harbor Fillet plant.

The Mazzetta Company, a family-owned and operated company based in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, is purchasing the 65,000-square-foot site at 21-29 Great Republic Ave. and plans to invest $1.5 million in improvements to the building, another $5 million on equipment and machinery necessary for its the processing line, and about $1 million on a new 8,000-square-foot tank house, according to Jim Duggan, the city’s chief administrative officer.

The Blackburn Industrial Park Economic Opportunity Area, created in 1995, consists of 22 parcels, including the site at 21-29 Great Republic Avnue.

Read the entire Salem News article.

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2.4.14 Development on Turner Hill, Ipswich

 Old Catholic Church on Turner Hill, Ipswich

The Salem News reports that that the old Catholic Church on Turner Hill in Ipswich (pictured above) will be torn down soon, which will pave the way for the final phase of the private golf and residential community to be known as The Gardens.  Proposed plans call for 10 duplex units to take the place of the former church.

Turner Hill is one of 4 historic estates in Ipswich. The Elizabethan-style mansion was built in 1903 and has been serving as a function hall and clubhouse for the country club.  Developer Ted Raymond bought the church property in 1997 and built the golf course and started the housing development. After running out of money, he sold the unfinished development to well-known developer Eyk van Otterloo for $15 million in 2007.

The developer is also proposing to finishing the other two residential sections of the property, known as The Hill and The Village.  Windover Construction has been hired to help develop the master plan for the property.  Right now, there are 14 duplex units and 14 single-family homes on the hill. Developers are proposing to build 16 more single-family homes there.

All single-family homes and condo units are considered part of the condominium association, which includes amenities such as golf, tennis courts, paddle courts, a bowling alley, swimming pool and fitness center.  There are also two restaurants on the property.

Read the entire Salem News article.

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