SALEM — The city was awarded a $1.2 million state grant yesterday for traffic and roadway improvements in North Salem, in the area known as Blubber Hollow.
It’s a neighborhood that has several major redevelopment projects planned or in progress, from the shuttered Salem Oil and Grease factory buildings to a 45-unit apartment and commercial building under construction at 28 Goodhue St.
The grant, awarded through the state’s MassWorks Infrastructure Program, will go toward improving Grove Street, from Harmony Grove Road to Goodhue Street. The project will cover the design, environmental remediation and construction of road and traffic improvements, including pedestrian and bicycle paths.
The project will redo two tricky intersections — the Grove/Harmony Grove/Mason streets intersection and the Grove/Beaver/Goodhue streets intersection — installing mini-roundabouts to channel traffic in a circular pattern.
Environmental cleanup mostly likely will be needed because the area was once home to the leather industry.
Greg Bialecki, Massachusetts Housing and Economic Development secretary, came to Salem yesterday morning to award the grant, calling it “a complement to the great work that’s being done, making Salem stronger and better.”
This type of investment will change Salem for decades to come, he said, making it “a better place for the next generation.”
Bialecki stood with Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and state Sen. Joan Lovely on a cold, blustery morning in front of 28 Goodhue St., a three-story, mixed-use building slated to be finished in May. It will have 45 apartments, plus commercial or retail space on the first floor.
Lovely called it a “terrific project,” one that couldn’t have come to fruition without the collaboration of state, local and neighborhood leaders.
“Traffic in this neighborhood is as bad as it is. The help (grant money) is greatly appreciated,” said Rosemary O’Connor, chairwoman of the Mack Park Neighborhood Association.
After a brief ceremony, Bialecki and local officials boarded a Salem Trolley for a brief tour of the area. Driscoll sat at the front of the trolley and served as tour guide, pointing out redevelopment sites along the route. The need for traffic improvements became clear as the trolley had to quickly apply the brakes as several cars pulled out from a side street.
In addition to 28 Goodhue St., three other major projects are planned along North River Canal. The former Salem Suede leather factories are scheduled to become Riverview Place, with 130 apartments. The former Salem Oil & Grease property is slated to become Legacy Park, with 141 apartments. And the Gateway Center, a multiuse complex at Boston and Bridge streets, is scheduled to include offices and a new community life center to replace the city’s cramped senior center.
Right now, those four sites pay just over $100,000 in property taxes, Driscoll said. Once redeveloped, they are projected to generate $1 million.
Besides adding tax revenue, Driscoll said, the projects will revitalize the North River corridor.
Driscoll used the phrase “traffic calming” several times as she spoke of the roadway improvements planned for the area. The neighborhood will make it attractive to new residents, with parks, walking and bike paths and close proximity to the city’s commuter train station, she noted.
“The next corridor we hope to tackle is the Boston Street corridor,” Driscoll said on the trolley tour. “It’s on our list to tackle next.”
Bethany Bray can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.