Yesterday morning downtown Haverhill was bustling. People hustled in and out of buildings, dodging the frigid winter breeze. The storefronts were done up nicely for the holidays, but something twinkling brightly in the sky is what really drew the eye. This was no oversized tree wearing multicolored bulbs, or lighted wreaths dangling from telephone poles. It was The Heights, a 10-story gleaming steel and glass tower, which will soon house 42 apartments and a rooftop restaurant.

This mixed-use transit-oriented development from the Lupoli Companies is the product of Sal Lupoli’s brawn and years of effort by so many leaders who believe deeply in the intrinsic potential of Gateway Cities. The Heights is a gift in the form of precedent not just to Haverhill, but to all Gateway Cities that want to see their historic urban form sprout an urban future.

Last week, Governor Baker issued his second term economic development plan. The document includes a callout box featuring The Heights and the Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP), a state tax credit that made the project financially feasible.

Governor Baker’s plan points to HDIP as a valuable tool in a section calling for greater production of multi-family housing near transit. If the administration and the legislature work together next year to make more HDIP credits available to private developers who put forward transformative projects like The Heights, Gateway Cities can make a meaningful contribution toward this goal.

News that the Governor’s Housing Choice legislation has emerged from the Housing Committee provides another boost of holiday cheer. Uncertainty adds to the cost of developing housing in Gateway Cities. Reducing the threshold for project approvals from two-thirds to a majority vote by city councils will certainly help get more projects going.

As we noted in a journal entry last March, Housing Choice + HDIP would provide a powerful combination, fueling housing production in Gateway Cities across the Commonwealth. ‘Tis the season for wish list making. There you have two of ours.

Seasons Greeting to all and Best Wishes for the New Year!

Housing and Economic Development

With nearly two-thirds of Brockton’s new housing units coming from single-family homes, city planner Rob May says it’s time to re-evaluate why apartments are so heavily restricted in the city. 

A Boston developer purchases the Boston Market Terminal in Chelsea/Everett for over $28 million and plans on introducing at least 160 permanent jobs.

Fitchburg receives a MassWorks grant to make its downtown more pedestrian and business friendly.

The Lawrence Partnership celebrates economic successes and milestones at their sixth annual event.

With a new proposal for mixed-used development, there are now 500 units of housing in the pipeline for an old cinema site in Salem. 

Worcester lines up to host the Little League Softball World Series, an event that attracts thousands of visitors from around the world.

Aaron Renn blogs on recent studies that explore strategies to spread growth in innovation industries beyond a few leading metropolitan areas, including a new report by the Brookings Institution focused on small and midsize legacy cities.


Brockton dedicates a 415-space parking garage to the late mayor Bill Carpenter.

Haverhill city councilors pen a letter to MassDOT seeking help resolving extreme traffic congestion.

Ridership is up 20 percent on the three Lawrence bus routes that are now free thanks to a decision by Mayor Dan Riverato cover their cost with city funds.

Leaks from natural gas pipes have become all too common in Lawrence.

Quincy receives a $2 million MassWorks grant to advance transit-oriented development projects downtown.

A report by outside experts finds the MBTA lacks a culture of safety.

CityLab says it will soon become the norm to find car-free streets in cities.


An anonymous $100,000 donation provides scholarships to 40 Brockton High students attending Massasoit Community College.

New Bedford High School launches a lab to educate students about the financial services industry.

A Springfield educator receives the “Oscars of teaching” for her innovative class on art and literature.

Two large Catholic high schools in Worcester will merge next year.

Creative Placemaking

Arts organizations cheer the expansion of the New Bedford Seaport Cultural District’s boundaries.

Worcester’s Main South businesses light up the area for the holidays with displays celebrating the neighborhood’s diversity.

Communities & People

Pacific Mills donates 50 new bikes for Lawrence children at the city’s tree lighting celebration.

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