hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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January 16, 2014

Downtown is in need of a transfusion

If someone were to ask me what we needed most for this city in the coming years, I would be quick to answer.

It might be the same thought you would have or that of your neighbor. In fact, it might be an overwhelming vote by the entire population.

A new downtown!

If not, then perhaps a shot in the arm — a renaissance. Something to grab a weary wanderer and give them reason to visit the hub of our city other than, say, restaurants, banks and discount outlets.

Now, I’ve got nothing against eateries. Let them come by the droves, but how many places can you visit to dine? How many bars can you frequent?

If this is our nucleus, then I would say we’ve living in an abyss.

Why can’t every day be like a Christmas Stroll? If I’ve heard people tell me that, you may have heard it, too. A downtown where people will flock like yesteryear, trade their business, relish at the offerings, and pump fresh economic spirit into the district.

As you drive from Washington Street to the end of Merrimack Street, the void hits home. Empty stores for empty shoppers. There are more places for rent than one might care to count. And as you make your way around the corner to Wingate Street, our once-burgeoning arts district continues to take a hit. Seldom do I see ample shoppers combing the street.

They come out for festivals and celebrations, which are few and far between. But on a regular day, business owners are looking out the windows wondering when their next dollar will come walking through the door.

I find it totally incomprehensible why the Woolworth Building — that abandoned eyesore of a cornerstone to our city —- has not been reactivated. The Pentucket Bank was once interested in turning that into an aesthetic foundation but nothing happened.

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