Riverfront Cultural District

Did you know?

Haverhill is now home to one of only 25 officially designated Cultural Districts in the state of Massachusetts! In April of 2014, after successfully proving that the triangle of Washington Street, Railroad Square, and Essex Street is a compact, walkable area with a high concentration of cultural and creative activities, the Haverhill Riverfront Cultural District was officially recognized by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The designation was made possible through the MCC's Cultural Districts initiative which was authorized by an act of the Massachusetts state legislature in 2010, and launched in April 2011. Below you'll find the goals of the new Riverfront Cultural District, as laid out by a team of interested citizens, artists, and representatives from the City of Haverhill and other local volunteer organizations.

Goal

#1
  • Create an environment where artists of all kinds can live and work in Haverhill.
  • Why? “Art and artists are the asset all communities are gifted with,” noted Carol Coletta, director of ArtPlace, a collaboration of 13 leading national and regional foundations and six of the nation’s largest banks that invests in creative placemaking. “In a time when we especially need to jump-start economic and development momentum in our communities, I have to ask, ‘Why wouldn’t you put every single asset you have available to work to make that happen?’ And that includes art and artists.” -Carol Colletta ("How the Arts and Cultural Tourism Spur Economic Development")
  • How? Some ideas put forth by the community included: developing vacant buildings into affordable live/work studio spaces, performance venues, and galleries; Creating more public art opportunities; Consistent, quality programming to draw in tourists and art "buyers".

Goal

#2
  • Raise visibility of Haverhill as a tourist destination in Essex County.
  • Why?The Massachusetts Cultural Council attests, Cultural districts "enhance the experience for visitors and thus attract more tourist dollars and tax revenue. And they attract artists, cultural organizations, and entrepreneurs of all kinds - enhancing property values and making communities more attractive."
  • How?Many of the ideas suggested to help make Haverhill a tourist destination include utilizing one of Haverhill's largest assets- the Merrimack River. Kayaks for rent, an annual boat parade, duck-boat tours, and other water-focused activities are on the short-list of ideas we hope to implement in the city. Walking tours of art and architecture, "Restaurant weeks", travel packages, and advertising on the MBTA trains are all ideas that support our goal and will be considered in the development of the Riverfront Cultural District.

Goal

#3
  • Attract citizens of Haverhill to the downtown center.
  • Why?It's no secret. The Merrimack Valley has it all… access to tax-free shopping, nearby lakes, ponds, and beaches, your choice of movie theaters, and a short drive to Newburyport or Portsmouth to stroll through a coastal town. Haverhill residents spend a lot of time and money outside of Haverhill, and with good reason. So how do we get Haverhill residents to spend their weekends and days off right here in Haverhill?
  • How?The residents themselves say MORE! MORE programming! Our aim is for there to be some kind of event going on each weekend in the RIverfront Cultural District and/or at one of Haverhill's Historical Treasures. MORE restaurants! MORE shops! MORE art! As the Riverfront Cultural District brand rolls out, and a cool new image begins to unfold, we hope to see more and more restauranteurs and entrepreneurs choosing to set up shop in Haverhill.

Goal

#4
  • Encourage development of market rate housing through creative economic development and cultural amenities.
  • Why?You may have noticed more than a handful of vacant storefronts in Haverhill's downtown. But you may also have noticed that many developers are choosing to invest in and restore some of Haverhill's rundown properties- the old Woolworth Building, the Surplus Office Supply building, and the old Haverhill Music building just to name a few! We've already seen the Hayes mill building turned into luxury apartments, and the Cordovan and Hamel Mill lofts turned from trash to treasure. All of this development is essential to a growing, vibrant city, and we want more! But what's a bunch of nice condos and apartments without the cultural amenities you'd expect in the area?
    • How? The Riverfront Cultural District will provide a vibrant neighborhood for downtown residents, and encourage the development of more market rate housing. Pet friendly streets with doggy stations, pocket parks, and programs to encourage and aid in facade improvement will make the Riverfront Cultural District a place people want to call home.

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