A dilapidated industrial building along the Merrimack River in Bradford could soon be replaced by 60 luxury condominiums, complete with public and private boat ramps.
A local businessman has partnered with a developer to seek a special permit from the city to build the estimated $15 million project on an abandoned industrial site at 38 Railroad St. The site is approximately 1.1 acres and sits just across the water from the Buttonwoods Museum.
Ernest Cioto, the property owner, purchased the site back in 2000. He said it's been his "dream" to develop the site for nearly two decades.
"And that day has arrived, I hope," Cioto said. "It's really going to be transcendent because there's really nothing like it."
The project proposal calls for three identical buildings with 20 units each consisting of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Each will have parking garages on the lower level and additional carport parking, according to the project narrative.
The project also calls for the developer to pay to extend the city's rail trail, and direct access to docks and boat slips for condo owners, which the project narrative said "is not currently provided to any development along the river between Haverhill and Newburyport without having to join a marina."
Haverhill Economic Development Director William Pillsbury said the proposal is "a project that we're very interested in because it's part of the waterfront zoning we did several years ago."
"On a principal basis ... it looks good," Pillsbury added. "(Cioto) is very bullish on Haverhill and he's very bullish on the river."
Cioto and his business partner, Michael Niskanen, have yet to file for the necessary special permit for the project. Under the business name 38 RR Realty Trust, the pair did file for a permit and had a hearing date of Jan. 29, but they withdrew their initial petition without prejudice a week before the hearing, stating they needed "more time to accommodate all department questions and concerns."
Pillsbury said the engineering portion of the developers' application needed work, but noted that they appear to be making necessary changes quickly. Cioto chalked the last-minute changes up to the city's request that the project obtain a larger easement for certain utility lines. He said he hopes to file a new petition for a special permit within the next few months.
Ideally, Cioto said, the developers would like to start construction by the summer. He projected the condominiums, if approved, could be up for sale by the spring of 2021 and estimated the cost of the project to be about $15 million.
A resident of Boxford, Cioto owns a plumbing business that has seen him performing work in Haverhill for years, he said. Though he has no prior development experience, Cioto said he met developer Niskanen after being his plumber for years.
"Me and my partner decided to go forward and beautify an area that is really underutilized," Cioto said. "It's also going to bring in road improvements with the new rail trail."
Niskanen did not return a request for comment.