BY DYKE HENDRICKSON
---- — NEWBURYPORT — Construction teams have begin excavating earth in preparation of the construction of the city’s newest medical facility, Avita Newburyport.
Avita Newburyport will be a 49,000-square-foot assisted-living facility for patients with brain impairments, such as Alzheimer’s disease or similar conditions. About 76 units are planned on the 5.3-acre parcel between Anna Jaques Hospital and Low Street.
The facility will be adjacent to the primary parking lot of Anna Jaques Hospital, but there is no connection between the two medical institutions.
Much of the entry traffic from Low Street will proceed up Wallace Bradshaw Jr. Way rather than Toppans Lane as was originally envisioned by the developer, Northbridge Communities, LLC, of Burlington.
Northbridge ceded land to the hospital for several dozen parking spaces in exchange for the right to use Bradshaw Way.
That decision to use Bradshaw Way as the key entry point of the new facility reflects the concerns of residents on Toppans Lane, who felt siting an entrance on their street would add to traffic congestion created by the nearby high school and middle school.
Meanwhile, that section of town could see a significant piece of land preserved as open space. A 17-acre parcel at the corner of Low Street and Crow Lane is being explored by city officials interested in keeping it as open space.
The property at 185 Low Street, known as part of the Colby Farm, is beginning to elicit interest due to the death in August 2012 of owner Geraldine Colby.
The parcel had for years been the home to horses. Geraldine and her late husband, Jackman Colby, had raced horses around New England for many years.
Real estate professionals say that buildable land in this city is at a premium, and that parcel is primarily open fields, if the residence and barn on the corner are discounted.
Holaday said the city is looking for parcels that could serve as open space, but she said that no serious discussions have yet begun on the Colby property.