HAVERHILL -- Work will begin this fall on a mixed-use riverfront development that will become the permanent home of UMass Lowell's Haverhill campus.
A ceremony was held Tuesday to mark the ceremonial groundbreaking for Harbor Place, the first phase for which will include a seven-story building with 81,500 square feet of mixed-use space, including the new home for UMass Lowell, and commercial and office space.
UMass Lowell, which has had a satellite Haverhill campus since the fall, has been using space at Northern Essex Community College on a temporary basis as it looked for a permanent spot.
The development will be built at what is now a row of run-down buildings, including the Woolworth Building, which has been vacant for more than 40 years, according to the city. It is proposed to include a pedestrian corridor to a new riverside boardwalk, with parking provided underground.
A second phase at the Merrimack Street (Route 113) site calls for a six-story building with 80 residential units, as well as commercial and office space. The development sits on the Merrimack River at the base of the Basiliere Bridge (Route 125).
Other tenants will be Haverhill Community TV, the Greater Haverhill Foundation and an operations center for Pentucket Bank.
Mayor James Fiorentini called Harbor Place one of the city's three biggest developments, along with the old shoe factories and the building of the industrial park in the 1960s.
"It has the potential to remake all of downtown Haverhill," he said. The mayor said he would propose making downtown a tax-increment-financing district as a way to encourage further growth with Harbor Place.
Tuesday's event included an announcement from Gov. Deval Patrick that the state was contributing another $10.3 million, for a $19.3 million total, for the project. The development is expected to cost around $70 million, Fiorentini said.
UMass Lowell plans to remain at Northern Essex until Harbor Place is completed, a process expected to take a year and a half to two years, spokeswoman Christine Gillette said. It will occupy 22,000 square feet spread across two floors at the new development.
The university has its own project in Lowell nearing completion. University Crossing, a 230,000 square-foot building with a new bookstore, student services and space for clubs and organizations, will be open in time for the start of the fall semester.
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