The central waterfront has consumed much of the municipal imagination in recent weeks but now the corner of Merrimac and Titcomb streets is emerging as a new hotspot.
City Hall officials have acknowledged that New England Development, the company headed by developer Stephen Karp, is planning an 86-room hotel in the area where the Fitness Factory once operated. His company owns several parcels there along Merrimac Street.
Indeed, executives have showed sketches of the proposed hotel not only to municipal leaders, but to some merchants in that area.
And Mayor Donna Holaday recently noted that a public-private parking building is moving forward in the planning process.
The “private” entity here is New England Development.
So it appears that City Hall and Karp executives are in close contact, even if New England Development’s leaders’ silence on the matter might be characterized by the term “omerta.”
The revelation that the parking garage is back on the table arrives at a moment where an increasing number of local folks are asking the same question, “What about parking?”
The borings that were taken recently limited the use of the riverfront parking lots owned by the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority.
And last week’s one-day shutdown of the Green Street parking area led numerous motorists — and merchants — to wonder, “What’s going to happen when they start building?”
Holaday said that at least 150 parking spots will be lost, if and when the proposed NRA structures are built.
And with the proposed 442-seat Ale House at the corner of Merrimac and Green streets moving forward in the permitting process, more questions about adequate parking are being raised.
But for those who do not want to envision a future fraught with doom, here is a thought: Holaday seems to be working closely with the Karp team, attending meetings and planning sessions with New England Development executives.