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08-25-2006, 07:51 AM
From the Nashua Telegraph

Riverfront condo plan put on back burner

By TOM WEST, Telegraph Correspondent

Published: Friday, Aug. 25, 2006

NASHUA ? The planning board tabled a proposal by the Stabile Cos. to purchase and demolish two unused buildings along the Nashua River and replace them with as many as 162 condominiums.

The panel delayed action on the project until Sept 14., saying issues involving the long-planned riverfront walkway and a traffic light at the intersection of Amherst and Fairmount streets still need to resolved.

Traffic issues are considered an integral factor for the redevelopment of the area because another developer, Harper Nashua, has purchased buildings on Franklin Street from Grace Fellowship Church and could build up to 600 residential units, along with 30,000 square feet of retail space, city officials said.

Stabile wants to put up three five-story buildings on Front Street on the north bank of the Nashua River, across from the Clocktower Place apartments.

An industrial facility and an old cotton storage building, which officials say is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, would be destroyed under the plan. The two buildings are owned by Nashua Corp.

Project engineer Jim Petropulos and Morgan Hollis, a lawyer for Stabile, said the cotton mill storehouse can?t be saved because it is structurally unsound and unfit for rehabilitation. But the developer is not ignoring the history of the millyard, they said.

The old cotton transfer bridge, which the city plans to reconstruct at a cost of about $600,000, has been incorporated into the proposal and would provide pedestrian access to the development, Hollis said.

Still, none of these plans are set in stone. The real estate market will dictate what is actually built on the 5.4-acre site, Hollis said.

Stabile, who owns the Nashua Pride, plans to build one 40-unit building first, and if those condos sell, he?ll build another. If the second building is a success, a third will go up.

Twenty percent of the condos would be affordable housing managed by Southern New Hampshire Services.

Moreover, if there?s a market for office space, Stabile will construct a 10,000-square-foot office building on the property. That building would provide an elevator and stairway for pedestrians and bicyclists to get from the bridge, which is about 16 feet above the river, back to ground level, Hollis said.Even if the office building isn?t built because of market conditions, some type of structure with an elevator and stairway would be built, he said.

The city is looking at the transfer bridge to serve as the western terminus of the riverfront walkway, also known as the Nashua River Promenade. Community Development Director Kathy Hersh and Economic Development Director Jay Minkarah have said $1.1 million in federal grant money has been allocated to build the walkway. But there was confusion at the planning board?s meeting Wednesday night with regard to the role Stabile would play in construction of the promenade.

City engineer Steve Dookran, a member of the planning board, said Stabile had indicated at a previous meeting that he would participate in construction of the walkway as part of the condo project.

Stabile and Hollis said Dookran was wrong. Hollis said Stabile has agreed to grant the city an easement to build the structure and will help prepare the site for construction. But it?s a city project, and the city should build it, he said.

?If anyone said we were going to build that, they were wrong,? Stabile said. ?I know what we agreed to and didn?t agree to, and I?ll walk out of here to today if that?s the case.?

Hersh tried to downplay the dispute, saying public access to the bridge has been discussed all along, but the issue was never resolved. She said the city would pay for the walkway even though she didn?t know what the actual cost would be.

?We don?t want to lose this project over an amount of money,? Hersh said. ?It?s important enough so that we?ll find a way to make it happen. There is federal money we could use.?

A traffic signal that will be needed at the intersection of Amherst and Fairmount streets also was a point of contention Wednesday.

The signal is expected to cost about $185,000. Hollis said Stabile would pay for it, but wants to be reimbursed by developers who build in the area in the future.

City officials said they still need to work out a formula for how that reimbursement would occur, and that?s when the board tabled the project after more than three hours of discussion.

08-25-2006, 11:42 PM
I wish Nashua was a little more welcoming to these developers. 762 new condos in a not-so-nice section of downtown Nashua is a big deal, and Nashua should be doing everything it can to push this through relatively quickly.

08-26-2006, 12:01 AM
no kidding^

if nashua was smarter, it would realize that it coulod rather easily turn itself from a bedroom for boston into a center city. all it would have to do is be more development friendly, maybe even link up with manchester, and boom, a new city hops on the map of importance....a few high rises wouldnt hurt, either! :wink:

10-15-2006, 05:04 PM
After years of fleeing cities, many give urban living a second look

By KAREN SPILLER, Telegraph Staff

Published: Sunday, Oct. 15, 2006


Staff photo by bob hammerstrom
Construction continues on the Jackson Falls condominiums, which sit between the Nashua River and Canal Street. More than 440 new housing units have recently been approved in downtown Nashua, and about that many more have been proposed.
Order this photo

NASHUA ? The ?in? thing in real estate used to be sprawling suburban homes with 1-acre lots, picket fences and plenty of lawn to mow.

But these days, many young professionals, empty-nesters and retirees across the country are either downsizing or looking for a more chic and affordable lifestyle.
And they?re finding it downtown.

The number of downtown residents in the nation?s largest cities is expected to grow by 2010, according to a survey by The Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy and The Fannie Mae Foundation. The movement is also
being seen locally, with 10 projects ranging from high-end condos to elderly apartments either under way or in the planning stages.

?This is a national trend, and we here in New England are going to get hip to it,? said Alan Manoian, a planning and development consultant and the city?s former assistant economic director and downtown development specialist.

Hoping to capitalize on the trend, local developers are hard at work in a city where there?s almost no room left to build homes.

Take John Stabile, who has partnered with Southern New Hampshire Services, a nonprofit community-services agency, to develop the largest project that has been approved thus far: Cotton Mill Square. The mixed-income development on Front Street will offer 32 of its 162 new condominium units ? 20 percent ? as what is referred to as ?affordable? housing, priced at $180,000 and mixed in among higher-priced units. That?s almost $70,000 less than the 2005 median home value in Nashua, according to U.S. Census statistics.

The affordable units are targeted for a worker who earns in the $40,000 range, based on a 6.25 percent mortgage interest rate.

?We?re going to bring in the teacher, the policeman, the firefighter,? Stabile said.
The Cotton Mill development, which also will include 9,000 square feet of commercial space and a remainder of condos priced at about $250,000, is set to open late next fall.

Another developer, Mark Maynard, is building the upscale ? $337,500 to $439,9000 ? Jackson Falls condominiums along the Nashua River. He?s also turning the former Beebe Rubber Co. site on Marshall Street into ?Hollis East,? 80 garden-style
condos, starting at $145,000.

Then there?s Mario Plante, the Hudson contractor who plans to spend $10 million redeveloping the 1886 Estabrook-Anderson factory building on Palm Street ? formerly the location of the Batesville Casket Co. ? into 80 apartments for people 55 and older. Plans call for the mixed-use development to include 25,000 square feet of commercial space.

Those developments are among the 445 housing units that have been approved. Of those, 158 are already built. And another 440 are still in planning or preconstruction stages. When all is said and done, some 885 units could open downtown to residents of varying ages and income levels.

?That area is a quilt, and this is just a piece of the quilt,? Stabile said of Cotton Mill Square. ?The quilt is going to be the betterment of the redevelopment of downtown Nashua.?

Changing face of downtown

?Living in a downtown, it?s trendy, it?s exciting. People want to be where the action is,? said Sarah DiSano, executive director of Great American Downtown, the nonprofit organization that promotes the downtown area, which has become home to a number of upscale restaurants and shops.

So, what?s the attraction?

Downtown Nashua didn?t become trendy until an outdoor seating ordinance was approved in the late 1990s and restaurants such as Martha?s Exchange became sidewalk cafes and started drawing an evening scene. Places such as Michael Timothy?s, Surf, Villa Banca and Peddler?s Daughter followed suit ? all of which feature outdoor seating. After the restaurants came chic, trendy stores such as Pompanoosuc Mills, Design Wares and Junz, to name a few.

?All of a sudden, the place is pretty cool,? said Manoian, owner of Northeastern New Urban, a planning and development consulting company.

The most important part of revitalizing a downtown ? besides bringing back an evening scene ? is making it so that people are living there, Manoian said. And that, he said, is what a lot of smart developers are working on now.

They?re creating more compact residential opportunities in mixed-use zones where people can walk, take the bus or even ride their bike.

?This is a very appealing lifestyle product,? Manoian said. ?That is at the root of all this.?

And while all the downtown-area developments are very different, they all share something in common: They?ll change the face of downtown.

?I think it?s good,? said Roger Bertrand, 60, who has lived at 71 Palm St. for a decade. His house is right across the street from the massive Estabrook-Anderson factory buildings that could become senior apartments.

?You don?t want to leave those buildings (vacant), especially in this neighborhood,? Bertrand said. ?For older people who can?t afford their houses, it will be super.?
Mike Peterson, co-owner of Weichert Realtors, a franchise opening next month in Nashua, agreed.

?It should improve the neighborhood,? Peterson said. ?Hopefully, it will be affordable homes.?

Peterson said he wasn?t surprised at all of the downtown area developments.
?The demand is there,? he said, adding that 40 percent of buyers he has dealt with come from Massachusetts.

The range of housing alternatives offered will provide people of differing income levels, lifestyles and family types the opportunity to live, work and enjoy their leisure downtown, said Jay Minkarah, the city?s economic development director. They will also help support existing retail and service businesses while encouraging new establishments to open that cater more to the immediate needs of a residential community, he said.

The developments will increase the number of people patronizing downtown establishments without significantly adding to traffic or increasing demands on parking, Minkarah said.

?To Nashua as a whole, we will begin to see the emergence of a vibrant, pedestrian-oriented, 24-hour city center ? something more akin to a typical European city today or to the way American cities were before the middle of the last century ? a model that is more environmentally friendly and more economically and socially integrated,? he said.

Neil Stanley, owner of CVS Paving, was buying lunch recently at Tacos Nayarit, a Mexican vendor across Palm Street from the factory building where Manoian?s client, Plante, plans to build 80 senior apartments.

Stanley called the recently proposed downtown residential developments ?cool.? Referring to Cotton Mill Square, Stanley said, ?I?m thinking of buying a couple of them.?

That excites people such as Mayor Bernie Streeter.

?Downtown is now once again a destination, not only for shoppers, but a destination for a neighborhood,? he said. ?I?m excited about it.?

?Burgeoning market?

While roughly half of the 885 residential units remain in the planning stages, downtown?s residential renaissance is already under way.

The real-estate agent in charge of the upscale Jackson Falls project on the Nashua River said the 83 Main St. sales center isn?t even open, but six of the 22 units are already under nonbinding reservation agreements.

?We?ve got a lot of interested parties,? said Martha Baroody of Prudential Rush Realty. ?Nashua?s booming.?

The people willing to spend $337,500 or more to buy one of the condos next to Margaritas Mexican Restaurant are mostly empty-nesters or professionals with good jobs, she said.

?A lot of people are looking to sell their homes in suburbia ? Bedford, Hollis, Nashua ? and they?re looking for a maintenance-free lifestyle,? she said.
Those people may be downsizing, but they aren?t downgrading, Baroody said, noting the granite countertops, marble baths and hardwood floors in a Jackson Falls condo.

But if they build it, how do they know if the people will come?

For one thing, the concept of living downtown isn?t new. One of the first large downtown residential projects developed in the late 1980s was Clocktower Place. The 326-unit brick mill buildings almost always has a waiting list for apartments.
?That was an extremely innovative and bold development,? Manoian said of the project, which was developed by Ed Bryce of Boston. ?He came in and said, ?Look at this massive mill structure.? That man was such a visionary.?

So, maybe there?s a market for more?

Stabile paid a firm to conduct a market study of the area before committing to the joint venture with Southern New Hampshire Services.

That study found that people are moving to Nashua, families are getting smaller and the fast-growth 55-plus demographic is surrendering to the lure of downtown life in southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts.

More baby boomers are expected to join that empty-nester group, adding thousands of people in the next five years, Stabile said. Retirees will grow faster, with a projected 4 percent average yearly increase from 2005-10.

?It?s an opportunity for the baby boomer to get rid of their four-bedroom garrison and still stay in town,? Stabile said.

And there is demand to support up to 140 new units in 2005, according to Stabile?s research. That number is expected to increase over the next five years, topping off with a demand of up to 208 new units in 2010.

The numbers are working so well that DiSano said the city?s Great American Downtown organization is modifying its strategy to focus more on business recruitment so the people who live downtown can walk to work.

?I get to walk to work,? said DiSano, who lives downtown. ?It?s two minutes. It?s the best commute I?ve ever had in my life.

?People who live downtown in the summer have been able to enjoy the farmers? market on Sundays. There?s nothing better than that.?

?Frankly, downtowns are better,? Manoian added. ?It started happening in Lowell, it?s happening in Manchester and all around metro Boston. There?s a burgeoning market of people out there looking for this alternative thing.?

The future

Is there such a thing as too much downtown development in Nashua? Does downtown run the risk of getting overbuilt?

No, according to Donnalee Lozeau, director of program and community development for Southern New Hampshire Services.

Lozeau chaired the Mayor?s Task Force on Housing, which came out with a study in 2003 addressing the lack of affordable housing in the area.

?There?s not enough housing for businesses to expand in the community and have their help live here,? Lozeau said.

?I think it?s valuable to think about how long it?s been since we?ve really built the housing stock that the community needs.?

For example, only 57 percent of city employees live in Nashua, according to the study. A full-time firefighter and part-time store clerk who together earn $46,000 a year and have two children, can spend only $1,149 a month on their home in the city?s rental market, according to the Mayor?s Task Force on Housing report. That rent would give them access to only 34 percent of the units in the city.

Finding something big enough would present a problem, since only 16.3 percent of the rental housing offers three bedrooms, according to that 2003 study.

That study called for about 500 units to be developed downtown area. The number that?s being proposed now is consistent with that study, Minkarah noted.

?You?re not going see 540 units hit the market at one time,? he said, adding that the other projects are in various phases of the approval process.

City Planning Director Roger Houston agrees.

?It may be 885 units, but you aren?t talking about a major influx of people,? Houston said.

For years, the Nashua River has been an industrial area, and now it?s shifting to something that has jobs, as well as residential and office space.

Lozeau said she would like to see more projects where nonprofits partner with private developers and the city to bring online not only affordable housing, but also mixed-income housing projects.

?It?s good for the community,? she said. ?It?s good for the people who live there.?
In the future, Houston sees more people strolling along the Riverwalk ? a 700-foot walkway that will run along the north bank of the Nashua River off Main Street to the Jackson Falls condos ? and more people calling downtown their home.

?Hopefully in the future with rail access, they might be able to go north or south or maybe west,? Houston said. ?That?s long term, probably, but there are always those opportunities.?

10-15-2006, 05:12 PM
Courtesy of the suddenly pro-development Nashua Telegraph.

Downtown Nashua Building Projects
Published: Sunday, Oct. 15, 2006

1. Jackson Falls

WHERE: Just off the north end of Main Street between Canal Street and the Nashua River, between The Peddler?s Daughter and Margaritas.


HOUSING TYPE: Luxury garden-style condominiums.

PRICE RANGE: $337,500-$439,900.

DEVELOPER: Mark Maynard.

STATUS: Construction under way; set to open in December.

2. Cotton Mill Square

WHERE: Former Nashua Corp. site on Front Street along the north bank of the Nashua River, across from the Clocktower Place apartments.

NUMBER OF UNITS: 162 mid-rise units (two buildings of 40 units each, plus one building of 82 units).

HOUSING TYPE: Mixed-income development of one-, two- and three-bedroom garden-style condominiums. Each building will have underground parking and elevators. Buyers will choose from one-, two- or three-bedroom garden units with a total of seven floor plans ranging from 850-1,443 square feet.

PRICE RANGE: $180,000 for ?affordable? housing units; $250,000 for larger units.

DEVELOPER: The Stabile Cos.

STATUS: Approved by the planning board in September; work hasn?t begun. Pre-sale reservations will be taken beginning in December. First occupancy is scheduled for late fall/early winter 2007.

3. Estabrook Residence & Anderson Square

WHERE: The 1886 Estabrook-Anderson Factory Building (formerly the location of the Batesville Casket Co.), 57 Palm St.

NUMBER OF UNITS: 140 elderly housing units.

HOUSING TYPE: Garden-style rental apartments for people 55 and older.


DEVELOPER: Mario Plante of MDP Management.

STATUS: Will go before zoning board for the first time Oct. 24.

4. Hollis East

WHERE: The former Beebe Rubber Co. site, 22 Marshall St.


HOUSING TYPE: Affordable two-bedroom garden-style condos. Two 40-unit buildings. A third building would be used as commercial space.

PRICE RANGE: Starting at $145,000.

DEVELOPER: Mark Maynard.

STATUS: Recently approved by the planning board.

5. Proposed riverfront condos

WHERE: Parts of the former Nashua Corp. mills on Franklin Street.


HOUSING TYPE: Condos, with 30,000 square feet of retail on the site.


DEVELOPER: Ron Harper Jr. of Harper Nashua, a unit of Harper Construction.

STATUS: Still must go before planning board.

6. Harbor Heights

WHERE: East Otterson Sreet and Harbor Avenue in the Crown Hill section of Nashua.


HOUSING TYPE: Two-bedroom condos.

PRICE RANGE: $200,000.

DEVELOPER: Mark Maynard.

STATUS: Approved by planning board last November. Construction hasn?t started.

7. Casimir Place

WHERE: 119 Temple St., the site of the former St. Casimir Church.


HOUSING TYPE: Three-story apartment building.

PRICE RANGE: Residents must earn less than $47,340 a year to rent there.

DEVELOPER: Casimir Place Limited Partnership (an arm of Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Nashua).

STATUS: Finished in January. Has a waiting list.

8. Meridian Place

WHERE: 18 Harbor Ave.


HOUSING TYPE: Garden-style one-, two- and three-unit work-force housing condos.

PRICE RANGE: $140,000-$170,000.

DEVELOPER: GFI Partners of Boston.

STATUS: Opened April 2005. Almost sold out.

9. Buckingham Place

WHERE: 46 Spring St.


HOUSING TYPE: Multifamily housing for homeless honorably discharged veterans and their families.


DEVELOPER: Harbor Homes.

STATUS: Expected to be completed late this year.

10. Streeter Shores

WHERE: Temple Street.


HOUSING TYPE: Elderly housing.

DEVELOPER: Southern New Hampshire Services, city of Nashua, Nashua Association for the Elderly.

STATUS: Completed in September.

10-15-2006, 05:16 PM
This is from a much larger article on all of Lynch's main agendas for his possible next term.

Commuter rail a top priority for Gov. Lynch

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN, Telegraph Staff

Gov. John Lynch said next year he wants to find consensus and set a timetable for restoring commuter rail to southbound commuters from Nashua.

Where a train starts, ends and how to pay for it remain serious obstacles, Lynch said during an interview with The Telegraph on Friday.

?We have to make up our minds that if we are going to do it, let?s get on with it,?? Lynch said.

Lynch?s office has hosted private talks in recent months involving city, state and federal officials and executives with Guilford Transportation, the company that owns the railroad bed.

?We?re making progress,?? Lynch said.

Discussion focuses on whether it would be best to start with a train from Nashua to Lowell, Mass., Lynch said. Commuters would have to then board an existing train in Lowell to get to Boston.

Extending the commuter rail spur west to Wilton is also on the drawing board, Lynch said.

10-15-2006, 07:45 PM
wow sounds like some real explosive growth is happening in Nashua...would people from NH say it is booming more than manchester these days? It sure sounds like it. probably due to its proximity to the boarder...but maybe I am wrong altogether.

Certainly sounds like there are a lot of housing projects going up or planned. AI have never been to nashua but I would like to because over the same square mileage it is as densely settled as portland-south portland (which combined would give the same land area as nashua with almost exactly the same population). and one more thing: why no height? thatmakes a city lame in my opinion, much rather go to manchester, otherwise id still feel like i was in a "town" regardless of population.

10-17-2006, 01:48 PM
Nightclub planning to dance into downtown

NASHUA ? People who say there isn?t much nightlife in the city will have a new place to try later this year.

An ?upscale? nightclub will open at 53 High St., in the former Goodwill building next to Dean?s Carpet, later this fall or winter, according to Dennis Truso, the lessee.

?We?re taking nightlife in southern New Hampshire to a new level,? said Truso, of DCR Entertainment, 43 McKean St., Nashua. ?It?s going to be upscale nightlife.?

No opening date has been set, and Truso didn?t want to reveal too many details because he and his partner need to get a few more permits ? including a plumbing and HVAC permit ? from the city, he said.

The city planning staff approved the land use permit May 16, and the plans examiner signed off on the building permit July 28, followed by the fire marshal Aug. 1.

Truso has a five-year lease on the building, he said.

-It's nice to see some cities still supporting nightclubs downtown, as opposed to closing them down.

Plans that were filed with the city and revised last month call for a 512-seat nightclub with a large bar and stage. Renovations have already begun inside the 8,850-square foot commercial space. The project will cost about $130,000, according to the building permit filed by applicant Tom Landry of Nashua.

The engineer is listed as John Turner of Criterium-Turner Engineers in Goffstown. Amoskeag Architectural Group of Manchester is the architect. Tom Landry Construction of Nashua is the contractor.

Spiro Linatsas of Lowell, Mass., and Pompano Beach, Fla., owns the building.

Parking will be available in the landlord?s lot, and there is free parking in city garages at night, Truso said. more than 50 years combined nightlife experience, and will be able to release more details about their venture in the coming weeks. ?We?re not releasing too much information,? Truso said. ?We need to get a few more permits.?

Currently, Nashua doesn?t have a ?nightclub,? per se. Popular nightspots, however, include Boston Billiard Club and Martha?s Exchange, both of which have dancing on select nights.

12-12-2006, 11:14 AM
Nashua looks again to its Rivers

Aerial view of the planned mixed-use development along Franklin and Front streets in Nashua (Courtesy City of Nashua)

From Nashua's earliest days in the 17th century, the city's rivers drove its economy. They carried fur boats downstream. And later they powered mills and factories. Over the past several decades, Nashua has been looking away from its rivers for commercial development.

But that focus is changing again.

The City of Nashua has embarked on its largest redevelopment project ever. And it's taking place along the river.

It's a kinda long article, written for radio here;

12-12-2006, 04:51 PM
wow, this is phenomenal. i hadn't seen that picture before, and the project looks huge. with upwards of 450 additional units in downtown Nashua, one could assume that that would be an increase of anywhere from 500 - 1,000 residents. that would work wonders for the independent businesses in downtown and there would be so much more pedestrian traffic!

12-12-2006, 07:55 PM
Very nice. Looks like 8 stories on the left side tower?

12-12-2006, 09:32 PM

This is Cotton Mill Square, a slightly smaller project - 162 units in 3 buildings - just down river from the Harper one.


12-18-2006, 10:25 AM
Condo developer gets OK to work in buffer

By TOM WEST, Telegraph Correspondent
Published: Monday, Dec. 18, 2006

NASHUA ? A plan to build 358 condominiums downtown moved closer to final city approval as the zoning board gave the developer permission to work within the 75-foot wetland buffer of the Nashua River.
The board voted unanimously Tuesday to grant Harper Nashua permission to work within the buffer as it prepares to build condos and 39,000 square feet of retail space on Franklin and Front streets.
According to Gerald Prunier, a lawyer for Harper, about 8,000 square feet of the buffer will be disturbed as the developer works to improve the infrastructure of the area.
Harper plans to construct three new buildings and convert three former Nashua Corp. facilities into riverfront condos, parking garages, restaurants and stores, Prunier said.
?This is really a major development in the city of Nashua,?? he told the board.Harper bought the property from Grace Fellowship Church, which bought it from Nashua Corp. The work in the river buffer zone is expected to take about six months, while building all the condos and retail space will take five or six years, Prunier said.
A traffic study for the project has not yet been completed, but traffic management will be a major hurdle for the project when it reaches the planning board, possibly as early as next month.
Harper plans to improve roads, sewers, drainage and sidewalks in the area, Prunier said, and that?s why the special exception from the zoning board was needed.

01-24-2007, 11:16 AM
Shopping center is becoming a reality
By ASHLEY SMITH, Telegraph Staff

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2007

HUDSON ? If you haven?t realized how large the potential development at Green Meadow Golf Club would be, consider the following.
The town is charging more than $200,000 in application fees. Thirteen local, state and federal permits are required to make the first phase a reality. At full build-out, the development would be worth nearly $500 million.
?I?ve been working in the planning and zoning realm for 20 years, and I have yet to see a plan of this magnitude hit the counter,? Hudson Community Development Director Sean Sullivan said Tuesday.
On Friday, W/S Development Inc. of Chestnut Hill, Mass., submitted hundreds of pages of plans to Hudson. The company hopes to build a mixed-use development that would transform Green Meadow?s two golf courses into a destination for shopping, dining and entertainment. Housing, offices and a hotel are also part of the plan.
On Tuesday, stacks of traffic studies, site plans, binders and drawings were piled up in the planning board?s meeting room.
?It?s kind of within the general realm of what we expected,? Sullivan said, but ?when you see it on the plan and the magnitude that is being proposed, it is still shocking.?
The review and permitting process is expected to take many months ? possibly even a year or more.Riverplace, as W/S has named it, would be the largest retail center in New England. The first phase of the development would be a 1.1 million-square-foot ?lifestyle center? ? an open-air plaza of upscale shops, anchor stores, restaurants, a multi-screen theater, parks and common areas and an outdoor ice-skating rink.
Lifestyle centers are modeled after American downtowns and marketed as having the appeal of a historic main street. They?re trendy in the development world, fast replacing traditional shopping malls.
Although W/S has submitted a subdivision plan for the entire 375-acre parcel, the company has only applied to build the first phase, which would be situated on the northwest portion of the property, bordering the Sagamore Bridge and Merrimack River. That?s the corner of the property furthest from existing homes.
Phase two is expected to be an office park, a resort hotel along the Merrimack River, another one million square feet of retail ? including big-box retailers such as Barnes & Noble or Target ? and 600 units of senior housing.
With both phases complete, Riverplace would be twice the size of New Hampshire?s largest mall, the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester, in terms of retail square footage. That doesn?t count offices, housing or the hotel.
While much of the material submitted by W/S is decipherable only by planning and engineering experts, a project narrative signed by the company?s lawyer provides some new project details. The document also reveals how W/S thinks Hudson should go about reviewing the plans.
Through the lawyer, W/S suggests the planning board meet at least once a month for a hearing on Riverplace, dedicating the whole meeting to the project. It asks the board to discuss putting a time limit on public input to make hearings manageable and avoid redundancy.
?We recognize that even making this suggestion will draw unfavorable reaction from some, but we do not make this suggestion with the intent of stifling dissent,? the letter read.
It goes on to say the limits would not apply to written submissions.
A separate document addresses traffic Riverplace is expected to create. On a weekday evening during peak traffic hours, it?s estimated that around 3,400 cars will drive in and out of the site.
At midday on a Saturday, Riverplace is expected to generate more than 4,500 trips.
W/S has proposed building a series of interchange ramps to and from the Sagamore Bridge to handle the extra traffic. A connector road would be built across the east side of the property, running semi-parallel to Route 3A. The road would carry traffic back and forth from the Sagamore Bridge to Route 3A near the Massachusetts border.
As submitted, major improvement or widening projects to existing town roads such as Lowell Road, Route 111 and Route 102 are not part of the plan.
However, according to Sullivan: ?I don?t think anything is off the table as far as roadway improvements.?
W/S has asked Hudson to defer more than $190,000 of the site plan application fees ? specifically, fees that cover staffing and consultant costs. The developer has already paid $20,000 toward the salary of a temporary town planner and $30,000 to Hudson?s consultant, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.
The company expects to contribute more money to cover these costs as the project moves forward. Thus, it?s asking Hudson to defer the fees to avoid overpayment.

Ashley Smith can be reached at 594-5860 or asmith@nashuatelegraph.com.

02-16-2007, 04:05 PM
Nashua looks inward
As a lure, city OK's hundreds of high-end residences downtown

By Sarah Schweitzer, Globe Staff | February 15, 2007

With nearly every available square mile accounted for and built out, Nashua is going the way of Lowell and Portsmouth and redeveloping the core of its downtown for high-end residences -- a bold move for a city better known for its suburban sprawl than urban luxury.

The city has approved construction of a record number of condominiums and apartments designed to lure empty-nesters and young professionals with yens for granite kitchen countertops, marble baths, and restaurants within walking distance. Many of the units are being created in rehabilitated mill buildings.

"A mini-Boston, perhaps," said Jay Minkarah, Nashua's economic development director.

The construction is poised to transform the downtown. The number of available housing units is expected to nearly triple -- from about 400 to 1,100. Some will be classified as affordable, but the bulk will go for market rate, at prices reaching $500,000. Developers, along with the city, also hope to revitalize the Nashua River with the completion of a 1.6-mile riverwalk loop, linking new condos to restaurants and to wooded areas.

City officials and developers say that Nashua is ripe for such residential growth as urbanites are priced out of places like Boston but still crave amenities such as restaurants, cafes, and galleries. Nashua, they say, is perfectly positioned to capture that market, with its growing number of trendy restaurants, proximity to Boston, and planned commuter-rail service.

To that end, the officials hope to attract more residents like Carrie Parker and Val Whitney. The couple moved to Nashua from New York this year to take up residence in Clocktower Place, a mill building redone in the early 1990 s as the first downtown residential development in decades. It is credited with emboldening the more ambitious development now planned.

"Nashua's not really fast-paced, but there's a lot to do," said Parker, 29, a native of Saco, Maine, who works in customer service for a marketing firm in Nashua. "To me, it's just like downtown Saco, but with more culture."

Whitney, 39, a financial analyst, said he wanted "urban, but not buzzing, buzzing metropolis. I could have had that in New York."

The couple looked in nearby Merrimack but decided the community was too quiet.

"Both of us were used to having a little more around," Parker said. "Here we are in walking distance of the stores and everything else."

The residential push has doubters. Some say that housing alone will not make Nashua an urban destination because the city lacks the high culture that other cities offer.

"You can shop, you can eat here," said one resident, Kirby Smith, "but there's no soul here." Smith, who is a spokesman for the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover, said that he and his wife live in Nashua because it's close to their work, but that they travel to Cambridge and Boston for theater, art-house movies, and ballet.

A decade ago, "urban living" was not a term bandied about in Nashua. The downtown, planned by the Nashua Manufacturing Co. during the 19th century, had fallen into disrepair and disuse by the 1960 s. With the closing of major factories, downtown stores were shuttered. The construction of Route 3 in the 1950 s cemented the orientation of life and commerce away from the downtown.

In the late 1980 s and early 1990 s, merchants lobbied for city ordinances that encouraged downtown life, such as allowing sidewalk cafes. The opening of Michael Timothy's Urban Bistro on Main Street marked a turning point, some say, offering proof that Nashua could satisfy those looking for more than just convenient, fast food.

More upscale restaurants have followed, along with galleries and boutique stores -- additions that planners and developers say has allowed Nashua to find its rhythm again. But the missing piece, they say, is residential space.

There are four major projects underway or in various stages of approval that will create some 730 new residential units:

Jackson Falls Condominiums will offer 22 waterfront condos scheduled to open this month.

Cotton Mill Square will include three new buildings with 162 condos, of which 20 percent will be affordable; it also will feature 10,000 square feet of office space. It has been approved and construction is anticipated to begin in the spring.

The Harper project will offer 358 condo units and 37,000 square feet for retail; it will include 300,000 square feet of mill space as well as new construction. Its approval is still pending before the Planning Board.

The former Batesville Casket Co. factory will be converted to 180 apartments for the elderly and 15,000 square feet of commercial space; the project has been approved and construction has begun.

A key element to the success of the residential additions, some say, will be commuter rail. Currently, there is no commuter-rail access to Nashua; the closest stop is Lowell. City and regional planners say they are close to negotiating the extension of the rail line to Nashua, but it is contingent on a number of factors, including the needed state legislation. If all goes as planned, the commuter rail would be operating by 2010, said Steve Williams, director of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission.

The endeavor is also reliant on another risky factor -- the fickle condo market, now in a downturn in Boston. Some real estate brokers say they still are hearing of a desire for condo living from clients -- particularly empty-nesters.

"Their lives are more centered around going out after work, and they want to be able to walk to restaurants and bars and then walk home," said Rachel McMeen, a realtor with the Bean Group who lives in Nashua. "But they also want a certain caliber of home."

Ron Harper Jr., the San Diego-based developer of the largest downtown residential project, which is estimated to cost $100 million, said, "Lenders may not be looking at condos, but the market is still there."

He noted that Nashua's infrastructure and economy are strong, giving the new residential push a solid foundation. "If it can happen in Lowell," he said, "it could happen much more in Nashua."

02-16-2007, 07:13 PM
I think this is a wise move on the city's part, because it really is positioned in such an optimal location to take advantage of empty nesters fleeing boston and from the high volumes of people from around manchester's area. it could be so much. But, not having been there, I must ask, as I am kind of skeptical, is it really fair to call Nashua a "mini-Boston"? I was under the impression that manchester was the real city, and not even manchester can call itself a mini boston. Portland sometimes gets away with being called that, but thats only because it is compared to other small towns in maine, none of which are very urban, so of course it feels like boston. but does nashua even have a downtown with high rises? Is it possible, in other words, for mini-boston to actually be considered a truth in any respect? if so, then I might plan a visit some time to check things out....but if not, Ill keep my distance. I think if the area in between manch and nash gets built up, the two cities should position themselves to become one megalopolis, that would be a great move, integrate city services, etc.

02-17-2007, 05:47 PM
I haven't seen that much of Nashua, but from what I have seen it is definitely not "mini-Boston."

02-20-2007, 08:02 AM
Downtown could go totally Wi-Fi
By DAVID BROOKS, Telegraph Staff
Published: Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007

NASHUA ? If all goes well, this spring, Nashua will become the third city in New Hampshire to provide free wireless Internet access downtown, using a private-public partnership that could sidestep concern about cities competing with Internet service companies.

The Great Nashua Chamber of Commerce said Monday it is seeking bids from Internet providers to run a so-called Wi-Fi network along Main Street from Library Hill to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, a distance of about 1.2 miles, with some spillover onto side streets.

?A key point is that people will be able to use the service as often as they wish, as long as they wish,? said Chris Williams, president of the chamber of commerce.

This is in contrast to a downtown service launched last July in Manchester, which limits usage to roughly an hour a day. Williams said Manchester?s service appears to be having access problems.

It?s also in contrast to a largely volunteer-run service that launched in downtown Portsmouth back in 2003, when supporters under the high-tech eCoast banner called it the first free downtown Wi-Fi service in the country.

That service, consisting mostly of a single transmitter and only operated in warmer months, has been taken over by the city of Portsmouth and the local chamber of commerce, which plan to expand service within the next year or so, Williams said.

Williams said estimated startup costs are ?in the ballpark? of $15,000 to $20,000, with expected annual operating costs of $5,000 to $10,000. The cost will be largely or entirely born by private companies.

Wi-Fi, shorthand for ?wireless fidelity,? is the generic term for a series of technical protocols called 802.11, which can carry digital information over radio signals for short distances. Any computer with the proper hardware, and certain other portable electronic devices including some cell phones, within range of an antenna or transmitter can use such a network to access the Internet without being plugged in.

A number of cities and towns around the country have looked into providing free or paid Wi-Fi networks as a way to lure businesses and young professionals to their downtown but few such systems exist. This may be due less to cost than to political concerns about government competing with private companies who provide wireless Internet networks.

?We don?t have that concern ? we are the private sector, we represent the private sector,? said Williams. ?We weren?t even going to explore that option (of a city-owned service).?

Under the chamber?s model, private companies will pay most or all of the cost ? the new Hampshire First Bank is underwriting ?a significant portion? at this point, Williams said ? and can look into revenue ideas, such as advertising on the ?portal page? that people will see when they first connect to the network.

The chamber and the Great American Downtown group will help organize the startup, and the city will provide technical prowess.

Proposals from interested wireless Internet providers are due at the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce office by March 16. A task force of representatives from the GNCC, the city, Great American Downtown and Hampshire First Bank will select a winning bidder by April 1, with service slated to start in May.

?That?s when people are starting to go outdoors, to enjoy the Wi-Fi network,? said Williams.

Wi-Fi has become part of life in the academic and business arenas. Manchester Boston Regional Airport and many hotel chains catering to business clients offer Wi-Fi access of various types, as do a number of colleges, although in the latter case it is are usually limited to students and faculty.

Locally, a number of coffee shops, cafes and restaurants also provide Wi-Fi as a lifestyle lure for customers who want to check out the Web while having dinner. They include at least two that will also be covered by the new Nashua service.

Governments have been slower to adopt the practice, with the exception of public libraries. Libraries in several local communities, including Amherst, Milford and Nashua, started offering free Wi-Fi last year.

The bid says the winning system must handle at least 1 Mbps symmetric data transmission. And just in case global warming does really odd things to Nashua?s weather, transmitters must be able to handle any temperature from 40 degrees below zero to 122 degrees above.