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Downtown fill in the blank: 61 Locke St.

Monday, May 31st, 2010 by

A few weeks back I was lucky enough to be invited to Haverhill Fever contributor and produce snob Chris’ place in the Hamel Mill Lofts for a cocktail party.

Now, If you ever have a chance to visit the Hamel Mill Lofts- do it! And if you’re ever in the market for a new apartment- double do it! Honestly, I’ve never been a planned community/apartment complex type of gal, but this place has so many great amenities (game room, gym, home theatre) and such breath-taking spaces (what can I say? I’m a sucker for 12 foot ceilings and banks of 8 foot high windows.) that I was starting to have serious doubts about how worth it having a mortgage to pay and grass to mow is.

As I was gazing out over the city below, daydreaming about being able to call a superintendent rather than further defending my Foursquare mayorship of Lowe’s, I spied this really cool-looking corner store- nicely painted and just sitting there, awaiting some plucky entrepreneur.

After some speculation, it suddenly hit me. Why, this was the deep-sixed would be porn store Hidden Pleasures, which was the centerpiece of my favorite Eagle Tribune story of all time! (“We’re not trying to sell dildos, honest! We just want chocoholics to be able to hide their shame.”)

Today I wandered downtown in search of Memorial Day festivities (crickets) and since I had my camera along, I decided to get up close and personal with the very building that caught my eye and tickled my funny bone a few years back.

61 Locke St- where "Hidden Pleasures" got the kibosh.

Around the back there was a full dumpster, which I hadn’t noticed when I was looking down at the building, so I’m not sure if this is a new development. There was also a permit in the window for said dumpster that’s set to expire soon:

Forgive the slanty photo- stupid peg leg!

I hadn’t heard any news that the naughty store folks had sold the building, so maybe they’re working on a slightly less NSFW. (not suitable for Winter St?)

Or, the old Eagle Tribune article also mentioned the owners may be interested in simply renting the space, in which case they could be clearing out to get it ready to put up for lease.

Either way, this is one property I’ll be keeping my eye on, for sure. I’d love to see the building go back to having big plate glass windows. Once the lofts fill up whoever uses 61 Locke St. will have hundreds of pairs of eyes peering down upon it, which means easy advertising! Could be a cute cafe, coffee shop, or even a book and gift shop.

What do you think guys? Anyone up for the opportunity?

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9 Responses to “Downtown fill in the blank: 61 Locke St.”

  1. [...] much as I enjoy speculating about downtown’s available real estate, and constantly clamor for a few necessities to come to town, (like clothing boutiques, [...]

  2. Patrick says:

    I think we should start a campaign to bring in a Trader Joe’s. It would answer the need for “necessities” near the lofts/train station with a really hip and affordable business.

    The location is barely 1.5 miles from exit 50 of I-495, with only one traffic light (Lafayette Sq). The route looks good, except the rusty train bridge by the Haffner’s. The town just paved the giant parking lot.

    Trader Joe’s has a much smaller footprint than a full-sized super market. I think 61 Locke St is a perfect place for the ONLY Trader Joe’s within 20 miles (Tyngsborough I think is closer than their Danvers store.)

    The food at TJs is really AFFORDABLE, in addition to be healthy. They make a lot of pre-packaged, non-frozen prepared food, which is great for the urban life style of loft-dwellers.

    What do you think of this idea?

  3. Cosmic Amanda says:

    Um, I LOVE IT. I know of at least few other folks who have been clamoring for a TJ’s. I don’t know if you’ve seen it- but there’s a form online where you can suggest a store. Some people in Plaistow have started a Facebook page to raise awareness of a campaign to bring Trader Joe’s there. I think we should do the same for Haverhill!

    Incidentally, there’s also commercial space for lease in one of the Hamlil Mills buildings. That could also be a good spot.

  4. Patrick says:

    Further thoughts:

    Of course, the 300+ Hamel Mills, and the 150+ Cordovan are walking distance. People who drive to/from the train station can swing by (its only 0.3 miles). This gives the place a lot of foot traffic.

    I think Haverhill is the best Essex county location for TJs.

    Newburyport’s Port Plaza already has two supermarkets, while their downtown would probably zone out a TJs (besides, its 3 miles to downtown from I-95, and there is no excess parking downtown.

    Downtown Andover already has a Whole Foods. And, again, its over two miles and 4 traffic lights (one real bad one) from I-495. If they put it out on the 114 strip, there is already a Market Basket. Plus traffic there is always crowded.

    As far as the Locke St. location goes, in addition to access from Exit 50 of I-495, it is about 2 miles from Exit 49 (but there are two traffic lights and a lot of weaving parallel to the train tracks after you pass under them). In addition, its only 4 blocks from Route 125, which brings traffic from the rest of Haverhill and Bradford.

    Quite frankly, I think Locke St. has location (downtown loft dwellers), location (access to rest of Haverhill via 125), and location (multiple easy accesses from I-495).

    I asked some TJs managers, and some said TJs was definitely expanding in Massachusetts, while others said that only Portland, ME was in their plans.

    I want to thank the Original Poster (OP) for the photo. If anyone wants to work up a sales pitch to TJs, please make a comment.

  5. Patrick says:

    Hi, Cosmic Amanda! -

    I have seen the suggestion form, but I haven’t written up a full sales pitch yet. I don’t think a one-line email is going to get them very excited.

    I like the Facebook page idea!

    Plaistow, urrrrr…. no offense to the folks who live there, but its already strip-mall hell. (We call it “The Edward Hopper Memorial Highway” – depressing). The only thing it has going is low taxes, but most of what TJs sells is food, which is untaxed in MA.

    Interesting about commercial space in Hamel. I paced off the footprint of a store in Cambridge, MA, and it was only about 100 ft. x 120 ft. (only 12,000 sq ft). That’s why I think its a good fit for the Locke St. location. But inside Hamel would work too, although it might be more expensive per sq ft.

  6. Cosmic Amanda says:

    Wow- you have been giving this serious thought! I love it! I always think of things like this but don’t know how to act. If you have some ideas of things you need for your sales pitch, let me know and I’ll write a blog post about it. I’d be happy to help you out in any way I can.

  7. Patrick says:

    At this point, I think the physical facts are pretty well established – thanks for your article on who owns the Radio market building.

    I think the next step is to put together a submission for TJs. For that, we need things like the commercial property tax rate, what access/fee the city would allow to its brand new parking lot, does the current owner have any interest in selling, is Hamel Mills interested in incentivizing TJs to move in, etc. If anyone is a marketer/demographer etc., we could sure use some statistics to back up our claims that there is a good customer base at this location.

    After we gather all that info and put it together, we could line up some real estate people to support our story. Finally, we try to get an interview with TJs. None of this email for a first meeting.

    Only AFTER we have some kind of relationship with TJs would I involve City Hall. TJs will know how to interface to local government for permits, etc. Let them do the politics. Unless, of course, TJs blows us off. Then, we might be forced to get City Hall to go to bat for us.

    What do you think?

  8. Momma D says:

    I have been craving this type of discussion…why not reach out to Forest City who owns Hamel for their support…it would be a huge plus for them…not sure if there is truth to it, but I heard that the Demoula/Marketbasket owners were in bed with city government…thus that is what we are stuck with…granted the Downtown Market Basket can be quite entertaining.

  9. [...] the weekend, one of my earlier downtown fill-in-the-blank posts received a comment so exciting, that hit so close to home, I nearly fell out of my chair. [...]

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