The plan also calls for two commercial buildings, one on each side of the park. The privately owned structures would generate money to pay for the park’s development and upkeep, NRA members say.
The NRA, which is partnering with MassDevelopment, a state agency that encourages private development and job creation, has also stated that private ownership will contribute tax revenue to the city.
Planners said the structures would be about three stories, with retail and restaurants on the ground floor and the top two floors designed as residential units. Parking would be under the buildings.
One building would have space for public uses, such as restrooms and a visitors bureau. In addition, the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and Industry is expected to take some space.
NRA leaders say they want to offer more commercial and recreational opportunities on the river side of Merrimac Street, which they say is part of the historical narrative of the city.
Patricia Dorfman, a member of the NRA, Wednesday said, “We want to create a greater connection between the downtown and the waterfront. This plan encourages that.”
One building would be on each side of the Firehouse, and would be limited in height to that of the Firehouse — about 35 feet.
The overall square footage of the two buildings would be about 70,000 feet, Donald Powers, founder and principal of Union Studio, said at a recent briefing session.
Structures would not be the same size, and might accommodate 30 to 35 living units.
Planners say that offering shops, restaurants and coffee shops would enable the community to enjoy views and activity along the river in the coldest months of the year.
City officials say that the combined parking area now can accommodate about 370 cars, and the new alignment would have room for about 250 vehicles. A parking study is currently under way to ensure enough parking spots are retained.