Haverhill, MA RODE Architects are working alongside Traggorth Companies to convert vacant, historic buildings into mixed-use buildings. These projects serve as a catalyst for the revitalization of the city’s historic downtown, support the expansion of investment in local businesses, and fit into the overall revival of downtown as a gateway city.
RODE was excited by the opportunity to renovate JM Lofts at 37 Washington, a vacant building originally erected in 1882 as part of an industrial expansion. That project was completed last year and now they begin 87 Washington, which contains many of the same features. 87 Washington stands as the next endeavor, to be another step in the Downtown Haverhill Smart Growth redevelopment. In both of these boutique developments, RODE is working with Traggorth to preserve historic context, while constructing residential apartments on upper floors and renovating the street level as retail space. As their portfolio grows, RODE has seen the compounding benefits of re-claiming vacant buildings as well as a focus on distressed neighborhoods. At 18 and 24 units, these small projects suggest a slight momentum shift, where the historic scale is being stitched back together in successive steps.
“We are very excited to be doing this work in Haverhill,” said Kevin Deabler, principal and co-founder, RODE Architects. “We know that transformations do not happen overnight; rather they are realized when successive, small improvements aggregate over a contained area and broader positive changes are able to be seen. The energy that accompanies each successive renovation feeds into the vitality of the streets and sidewalks, which, in turn, fuel interest in downtown living.”
RODE and Traggorth have followed this approach on multiple projects, beginning with the Off-Centre Lofts in Jamaica Plain, to utilize good design and a mix of functions to support urban revitalization. The mixed-use aspect is essential to encourage both the street front and the upper stories to become inhabited and allow continued growth. These historic projects are rare because renovating these old, vacant buildings can be challenging and dispels the interest of many developers or land owners, causing them to further deteriorate over the years and compounding the necessary improvements.
“In order for us to attract businesses and residents to Haverhill, it’s critical to have distinctive, well-thought design that sends the right message,” said Noah Koretz, a transformative development fellow at MassDevelopment. “Rode’s work on the revitalization of JM Lofts is a critical piece of design work in Haverhill, as it honors the history of the building and its surroundings while pushing the envelope in terms of style and functionality offered in downtown apartments here. Those of us working on downtown investment in Haverhill are thrilled that the firm will be working on Traggorth Companies’ next project as well.”
The projects were funded through Mass. Historic Commission (MHC) tax credit rewards and, while adapted to another use, are intended to replicate the original condition as much as possible. The state of Massachusetts has also supported these redevelopments with investment through the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Housing Development Incentive Program. The planned redevelopments include necessary structural upgrades to resist seismic and wind-loads and visual renovations that align with the Historic Preservation guidelines and include the replacement of windows with new historically accurate ones that are high-performance and the repair and replacement of historic brick, stone and cast-iron facade elements. RODE’s approach to interior design is in-keeping with this focus, allowing the building to reveal itself through the execution of the project, with textures unearthed as the old layers are exposed. Mayor James Fiorentini and planning director William Pillsbury have expressed their support for this transit-oriented development and the opportunity for continued economic growth it brings to the city.