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Old 04-15-2010, 08:31 PM   #1
M. Brown
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Hooksett Project ($500,000,000)

Behold. Hooksett is a town just north of Manchester for those of you who don't know.

Quote:
Hooksett project would be one of state's largest

By GARRY RAYNO
New Hampshire Union Leader

HOOKSETT ? Town officials and developers unveiled their vision of a 2 million square foot mixed-use development over nearly 170 acres of private, state and town-owned land between I-93 and the Merrimack River including Exit 11.
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Old 07-12-2010, 11:06 PM   #2
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Re: Hooksett Project ($500,000,000)

I am familiar with Hooksett. We have friends who live there and have visited a few times. Is this on the same stretch that the IMAX is? It seems like Hooksett has a lot of development, but none of it is connected very well. What I'm saying is that it seems like it's all plazas which you can't easily walk between. This project, while big, isn't something I think is good for the town, because it seems to fit in line with what I just described. I much prefer Manchester. Any input Mike?
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Old 07-12-2010, 11:22 PM   #3
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Re: Hooksett Project ($500,000,000)

Wow, they still build office parks?
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Old 07-12-2010, 11:48 PM   #4
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Re: Hooksett Project ($500,000,000)

Van, why do you hate freedom?
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Old 07-13-2010, 11:46 AM   #5
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Re: Hooksett Project ($500,000,000)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick View Post
I am familiar with Hooksett. We have friends who live there and have visited a few times. Is this on the same stretch that the IMAX is? It seems like Hooksett has a lot of development, but none of it is connected very well. What I'm saying is that it seems like it's all plazas which you can't easily walk between. This project, while big, isn't something I think is good for the town, because it seems to fit in line with what I just described. I much prefer Manchester.
I think this is pretty accurate--I grew up in Bedford, another suburb of Manchester, and I'm only vaguely familiar with Hooksett. I think this is fairly true of most rural New England towns that exploded as suburbs in the 1960s to the present, but Hooksett has always seemed like a collection of shopping malls than an actual place. While this project would be a considerable improvement on all the existing suburban plazas and office parks in the Manchester area, I think it's sort of like a good step in the wrong direction.

Also like many once-small New England towns (and unlike Bedford), Hooksett has a fairly dense, though very small village, which is about 1/2 mile north of this project. It seems like that village could be built up more as a denser, though still small center of local businesses and more residences straddling both sides of the river. If this project has a redeeming factor, it's that it is almost an extension of that village, though I think it would be a bit of a disjointed extension. Still, if it goes forward, I think you could see the village (and perhaps this project) being able to be served by a single commuter rail/BRT station connecting it to Manchester in the future, as well as being a secondary "urban" node in an area of sprawl.

Still, this is far from the best case. I think it would be good if a lot of towns, Hooksett included, did build up their villages into secondary urban centers, continuing to gain density as they did for 200 years rather than seeing them as historic relics. These nodes could then be connected to a primary urban center, in this case Manchester, by transit and other services with most of the remaining land remaining open space, and projects like this proposal being located in the city. The biggest obstacle to this is the lack of comprehensive regional planning. New Hampshire is getting better at this with regional planning commissions, but my sense is that these don't have any real authority. New Hampshire's reliance on local property taxes also means that every town wants something like this and sees itself in a planning vacuum, rather than working as a satellite of Manchester. New Hampshire needs much stronger regional planning to direct urban-scale projects to existing urban areas, while strengthening the surrounding areas through a more regional tax-base that would be less reliant on individual towns. Towns could retain degrees of autonomy, but I think if there was more of a sharing of taxes, services and planning, you'd have much less competition and redundancy by neighboring towns and a much more efficient and appropriate planning structure.
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Old 07-13-2010, 11:51 AM   #6
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Re: Hooksett Project ($500,000,000)

Oops.. I meant to mention this:

I think the degree to which overlapping and competing planning exists just within greater Manchester can be seen in Hooksett's economy development website. A similar website exists for Manchester, but there should probably be one single, coordinated website reflecting a single, coordinated planning department sharing a regional philosophy, agenda and policies.

I also think Hooksett's website shows pretty clearly how little sense of place there is in the town.
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Old 07-13-2010, 12:20 PM   #7
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Re: Hooksett Project ($500,000,000)

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Originally Posted by FrankLloydMike View Post
I think if there was more of a sharing of taxes, services and planning, you'd have much less competition and redundancy by neighboring towns and a much more efficient and appropriate planning structure.
You are absolutely right. In land use law we call this a "race to the bottom" and it happens everywhere. It really does highlight the need for regional planning efforts.
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Old 07-13-2010, 12:22 PM   #8
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Re: Hooksett Project ($500,000,000)

Wow, I just checked out that Hooksett website and its almost as if the town is oblivious to the pictures they chose to represent their municipality. Is it really enticing to see a sprawling parking lot with a title that says: locating your business in hooksett is good thinking?
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Old 07-13-2010, 02:33 PM   #9
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Re: Hooksett Project ($500,000,000)

Yeah, those pictures are incredible, especially the one not even of just a single big box store but the sprawl, signage and power lines.

I was curious to see if Bedford had a similar website (they don't as far as I can tell), but I did find a website detailing the town's master plan, currently being updated. There's some interesting stuff in there, including support for high speed and commuter rail, TOD development, form-based code, etc. Despite Bedford's sprawling suburban development, similar to though more compact than Hooksett, it looks as if there are some promising policy changes in store. Still, even if every town developed similar planning standards, it needs to be done on a regional basis, but I don't think I'm saying anything new there.
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Old 09-10-2010, 03:49 PM   #10
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Re: Hooksett Project ($500,000,000)

So any news on this? I drive up this way on 93 only, but never see anything. Any news on this actually being developed?
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Old 09-10-2010, 04:02 PM   #11
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Re: Hooksett Project ($500,000,000)

Well, Hooksett is weird, they are more a big retail only with some housing town. Nothing special. Against what all of you say, I think (from what little I see here, can't find anything else online) this project has some potential. Hooksett needs more parks, and just something else that will define it's town. But this project is a start, something with a little effort rather than just a bunch of concrete and warehouse big retail. Again, with this built like FrankLloydMike said, if this gets connected to Manchester, and eventually Boston through the (doubtful) commuter rail to connect Nashua and Manch to Boston, this will provide a nicer community and many growth options for both Manchester and Hooksett. As it is Hooksett is being developed, mainly with big retail along the main roads and many houses (very nice). Reminds me of Bedford a bit. But Hooksett could use a bridge across that river IMO especially at exit 11.

OK, I found this... http://www.wmur.com/money/23152938/detail.html
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Old 10-28-2010, 09:59 AM   #12
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Re: Hooksett Project ($500,000,000)

This proposal appears to be dead at least for now, if not completely:

Quote:
Major Hooksett retail development a no-go
HOOKSETT ? A mega retail-residential development for Route 3A will not come to fruition because no major retailers would commit to the project, town officials announced Wednesday.
The Hooksett Gateway Development would have forced a re-construction of Route 3A and Hackett Hill Road near Interstate 93's Exit 11. The 2 million square-foot development would have also combined the two state liquor stores on I-93 in Hooksett into a larger, new facility off Exit 11.
"The Hooksett Gateway project has actually stimulated some other area development being pursued," Hooksett Town Administrator Carol Granfield said in a statement. "While disappointed in the status of the initial project, the town... will continue with (its) efforts to attract the highest and best use for Exit 11 and feels confident that another significant opportunity will present itself."
(from the Union Leader)
There were certain merits to this project, especially it's mixed use nature and density, and the possibility that it could bring a likely well-used commuter rail stop between Concord and Manchester. Still, I can't help but think this sort of money will be better spent investing in improving existing areas and bringing retail, offices and middle-to-high end residential development in already dense neighborhoods in Manchester and the surrounding communities. Hooksett, like Bedford, Londonderry, and the Pinardville area of Goffstown should be treated as extensions of Manchester in terms of planning, so that there's some cohesion instead of enormous projects scattered around without any consideration to connecting them. So despite some of its admirable characteristics, I'm not sorry to see this project fall through.
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Old 10-28-2010, 05:26 PM   #13
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Re: Hooksett Project ($500,000,000)

Agree, but NH in general could have used a nice park along the river. The Merrimack river is so big and yet so little is done with it in NH.

Manchester really needs to get a nice riverwalk along the river with cafe's benches and parks.

I think Hooksett should go through with that transformation of the town center old bridge there. I saw either on this forum or on their site. But they wanted to convert it to a foot bridge and paint it purple with like art or historical stuff along it. I liked that idea.

I would also like to see bus route form the Manchester Transit Authority expanded to Hooksett center, Gofftown center and just a bit further than the Manch. border. As it is now it basically stops where Manchester stops.
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Old 10-29-2010, 11:28 AM   #14
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Re: Hooksett Project ($500,000,000)

That bridge idea sounds nice--do you have a link to any info on it? I'd love to check it out.

Hooksett, along with a lot of suburban southern New Hampshire, is an easy punching bag--it's planning website promotes exactly what most places are trying to get away from, it bleeds north from Manchester on the east side of the river becoming a long line of strip malls, it's almost entirely unwalkable, and it's best known outside of Manchester as the home of tolls and liquor outlets. Because of all these issues and the fact that it's the only town (other than cities) to straddle the Merrimack, it's easy to overlook the town center, which is no longer the center of population in the town. Hooksett's town center, though, has a lot of potential--it's dense, compact and right on the river. It also has a working railroad, which is almost certain to include commuter rail in the next few years, in addition to being easily accessible by central New Hampshire's two major north-south roads. By changing its planning priorities, Hooksett could easily build up a nice, walkable, transit-oriented neighborhood of shops, restaurants and housing along Main Street/College Park Drive between West River and Hooksett Roads. Making use of the riverfront and old trestle would be a great component.

As far as transit is concerned, I'm going to respond on the Manchester thread, since I think it's a more regional concern and the most recent topics regard planning and transit.
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Old 10-30-2010, 03:11 PM   #15
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Re: Hooksett Project ($500,000,000)

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Originally Posted by FrankLloydMike View Post
Hooksett, along with a lot of suburban southern New Hampshire, is an easy punching bag--it's planning website promotes exactly what most places are trying to get away from, it bleeds north from Manchester on the east side of the river becoming a long line of strip malls, it's almost entirely unwalkable, and it's best known outside of Manchester as the home of tolls and liquor outlets.

Not the towns fault as much is society and the way bid retail chain stores love to build. And yes the town does ok this so... This is why buses and the scarce bike rack (which the MTA does have bike racks on the buses) are in such need.

If I find the bridge thing I will post.

Last edited by MonopolyBag; 10-30-2010 at 03:31 PM.
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