Historic building to become housing, retail space

MIKE LABELLA/Staff photoFormerly home to the Haverhill TV and Appliance company, the building at 21-27 Washington St. will be transformed into housing and retail space. 11/17/2020  

For decades, a large sign advertising Magnavox electronics products marked the home of the Haverhill TV and Appliance company on downtown Washington Street.

The first floor of the historic building owned by the Battistini family was occupied by Haverhill TV and Appliance from the early 1900s until September 2019, when the family removed the sign and sold the building at 21-27 Washington St. to a development company which is creating housing and retail space there. 

It is one in a long line of redevelopment projects in downtown Haverhill that have transformed old factory buildings into hundreds of units of new housing in recent years.

One of the last remaining vacant buildings in Haverhill’s Washington Street Shoe Historic District, the structure's three upper floors formerly served as office space and warehouse storage, but had been vacant for years.

A development company called 27 Washington Street LLC purchased the building in late 2019, spent about a year designing plans and getting permits from the city, and recently began construction.

The state agency MassDevelopment has provided a $2 million loan to the development company, which will use the money to renovate the building into two ground-floor commercial units and nine market-rate rental housing units on the upper three floors.

"I am beyond excited to play a part in Haverhill’s growth,” said 27 Washington St. LLC owner Ted Ammon. "The city has been undergoing a lot of change over the past decade and I was looking for a way to play a role in that.

"I had been searching for the right opportunity for years, and finally found it here with this project," Ammon said. "Washington Street is full of great restaurants and retail. The energy here is amazing. I look forward to seeing the downtown continue to thrive."

Lauren Liss, president and CEO of MassDevelopment, said the project will preserve the former Magnavox building’s status as a treasured landmark, while creating housing and retail space on one of downtown’s main streets.

"MassDevelopment provided loan financing for similar redevelopment efforts at 37 Washington St. and 81-87 Washington St.,'' Liss said, "and we’re proud to see how this type of project not only breathes life into an underutilized building, but also creates small business opportunities, provides foot traffic and adds vibrancy to the city."

In 2014, MassDevelopment provided a $90,000 loan to help Traggorth Companies redevelop 37 Washington St. into JM Lofts, featuring ground-floor businesses Battle Grounds Coffee Co. and The Switchboard, and 18 market-rate apartments on upper floors.

In 2018, MassDevelopment provided $5.6 million in loans to help Traggorth Companies buy and redevelop the long-vacant historic building at 81-87 Washington St. into The Granville, featuring ground-floor retail space and 24 market-rate apartments on upper floors.

All three Washington Street projects were a focus of MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative, a program designed to accelerate economic growth within certain districts of cities.

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks and communities to stimulate economic growth across Massachusetts. In the last year, MassDevelopment financed or managed 341 projects, generating investment of nearly $2.7 billion in the state's economy, officials said. They said those projects created or supported a total of 10,871 jobs and built or preserved 1,787 housing units.

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