A large mixed-use development is helping to transform and reactivate downtown Haverhill, Mass., along the Merrimack River.

Nonprofits Planning Office for Urban Affairs (POUA) and the Greater Haverhill Foundation joined forces on the waterfront redevelopment, assembling eight parcels of land along the river and demolishing distressed structures, including a Woolworth building that had sat vacant for over 45 years.

“The symbolism of that coming down and this new thing rising from the ground has had tremendous impact,” says POUA president Lisa Alberghini.

The new development, Harbor Place, includes a six-story, 80-unit residential building for a mix of incomes—50 low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) units affordable to households at 30%, 50%, and 60% of the area median income (AMI); six units for households at 80% and 110% of the AMI; and 24 at market rates.

The adjacent five-story commercial building includes two floors for a satellite campus for UMass Lowell, local bank headquarters, and a local media company, which plans to create a glass-front recording studio that opens up to the spacious new public plaza. In addition, the development team raised the grade of the entire stretch of Merrimack Street by 10 feet to create direct access to the river for the first time in over 80 years. A 15-foot-wide boardwalk runs the entire length of the site and beyond.

The city and the commonwealth both provided support for the $42.5 million development. Bank of America Merrill Lynch purchased the state and federal LIHTCs as well as the state Housing Development Incentive Program tax credits.

In addition to revitalizing the riverfront, Harbor Place is triggering further investment and helping to attract businesses and residents back into the area.

“The stimulative effect that it has had on downtown Haverhill is the piece that is most exciting,” says Bill Grogan, COO and general counsel at POUA. “When you look at before-and-after pictures of the site, you really see what incredible impact it has had by removing blighted buildings and opening up public access to the river.”