NEWBURYPORT — Part of the waterfront could undergo significant changes if several different planning scenarios come to fruition.
Davis Auto Parts, which has occupied 38-40 Merrimac St. for years, is in the process of being sold to restaurateur Joseph Leone, who is planning on converting it to a brew pub, city officials say.
Leone runs the Black Cow restaurant, which is nearby on the waterfront. He will retain the lease on that restaurant, and open a brew pub when he takes ownership of the building. Numerous attempts to reach Leone were unsuccessful.
The building has 6,339 square feet of usable space, and about 1,320 square feet of an unfinished upper story. Built in 1850, it is valued at $778,300, according to municipal records.
City officials say that the new owner has plans to construct a deck, which would have views of the river.
A brew pub on the location would hem together a string of restaurant/bars along the downtown stretch of Merrimac Street, including the Black Cow, Glenns Galley and Cool Bar, and Michael’s Harborside.
Leone, of Beverly, also owns the Black Cow restaurant in downtown Hamilton, which has been undergoing substantial renovations.
In an unrelated development, members of the Waterfront Trust say they are considering adding more dockage to the waterfront.
Members say they favor greater utilization of the transportation dock, the sector of the riverfront closest to the Black Cow to which large commercial vessels tie up. The Trust Tuesday night earmarked $8,500 for engineering studies relating to more dockage.
“We are exploring the possibility of finding some used dockage,” said Doug Locy, co-chair of the Waterfront Trust. “There could be an opportunity to provide more floats and increase space for temporary tie-ups.”
He said extending a dock “about 60 feet or so” into the river is a possibility.
Panel members say that numerous agencies would be involved in any changes, including the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority, the Waterfront Commission and the Office of the Harbormaster.
“The central waterfront is running out of space,” said Bill Harris, a former city official and a resident knowledgeable about the history and uses of the river. “The trustees are looking to improving that area, and that is a good thing.
“Additional dockage would permit discussion of a water taxi, more space for the Boat Camp and some dockage for temporary tie-ups.”
If a new restaurant and additional dockage are in the planning stages, so is the possibility of a commercial building on nearby land owned by the NRA.
Consultants for the NRA are currently assessing its 4.2 acres of riverfront land, now used mostly as parking lots.
About 2.1 acres are on the west side of the Firehouse, and consultants this spring suggested the possibility of a commercial building near the Firehouse.
NRA Chairman James Shanley has said that Union Studio, the engineering and consulting firm, will come forth with tangible (suggested) plans sometime after Labor Day.