NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 27, 2013

Construction vehicles could be visiting soon

The renowned Indy 500 slogan for this Memorial Day weekend, “Drivers, start your engines,” could apply to Newburyport as well.

The drivers would be those piloting backhoes, dump trucks and supply vehicles, because by the end of last week, it appeared that several major construction projects would be introduced in the near future.

Developers of the proposed Merrimac Ale House have obtained approval of their site-plan design for 40 Merrimac St.

Restaurateur Joe Leone plans a 442-seat bar and eatery, with outdoor dining and views of the water.

The venue would go into the empty red building that until recently housed Davis Auto Parts.

Leone still must acquire state approval on waterfront issues, and a municipal OK on the actual design and building plans.

But, as they say in the business, “Soup’s on.”

Meanwhile, a hotel by New England Development might be sited on the corner of Titcomb and Merrimac streets.

Executives of that enormously prosperous company aren’t commenting, but Mayor Donna Holaday said that a 75-room boutique hotel is being considered.

Numerous plans for hotels have been shot down over the years, but this location is not on the waterfront. And yet the parcel does offer views of the river.

In a separate project, municipal leaders are getting their paperwork in order to begin an initiative to strengthen the bulkheads that support the 1,300-foot riverfront boardwalk.

The city was awarded a state grant of almost $2 million a few years ago, but costs have about doubled since then, according to city engineers.

Still, the first phase of the project can start in October, municipal leaders say.

Showing cooperation on a common goal to help pay for the project were members of the Waterfront Trust, Harbor Commission and Newburyport Redevelopment Authority.

Each has voted to contribute $25,000 to the cost.

These three projects near the Merrimack are in addition to anything the NRA might propose on its 4.2 acres near the water.

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