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March 8, 2013

Condos approved for Merrimac St. site

NEWBURYPORT — Members of the Planning Board have given unanimous approval for a development team to move forward on a plan to construct two small condominium buildings at 2 Mechanics Court, a small parcel off 120 Merrimac St.

The board’s vote focused on giving approval to put two residential buildings on one lot, and thus Chart House Development LLC must acquire construction approvals before it can begin work.

But the board appeared pleased that the plan has the potential to improve that section of the city, and that it will include one unit of affordable housing.

“This looks like it could be a great project,” said board member Sue Grolnic. “And thank you for including one unit that will be affordable housing.”

The 23,000-square-foot parcel is now used as a used-car lot and an office for the Perry-Murphy Construction Co.

Developers plan to build about nine units, five in one building and four in another. They would also be moving an historic building to another part of the parcel.

The board had asked developers to include at least one unit to be “affordable,” and it appears that designers will include a unit of at least 900 square feet that can be marketed separately.

Board members said the Newburyport Housing Trust is planning to contribute $50,000 to the down payment of a purchaser’s buying price, but details of such a transaction have not been finalized.

The board postponed discussions on two other matters because the developers requested more time.

A plan to construct about 75 units of housing adjacent to Anna Jaques Hospital for elderly residents with memory loss and a proposal to put a 442-seat restaurant (the Newburyport Ale House) at 40 Merrimac St. were both put off until a future meeting.

The board also took no action on a permit request for a small subdivision at 325, 323R and 329 High St. Members said they want to see more information before passing judgment.

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