Manchester Infill & Small Developments

FrankLloydMike

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There was some mixed news out of the Board of Aldermen meeting last night. Ted Gatsas vetoed the aldermen's approval of the existing offer for the Pearl St. parking lot from VMD Companies. Apparently two other developers have expressed interest in the property and it will now go out to bid. Hopefully the process doesn't drag on too long.

In more favorable news, Anthem Blue Cross will be moving its headquarters to the former Bank of America building on the corner of Elm and Bridge. Always a good sign to see a large employer move to downtown!
I'm disappointed that the mayor vetoed selling the land to VMD, but I'm hopefully that this doesn't represent a setback for development on the Pearl Street lot, or worse yet: another high profile property surrendered by the mayor for some suburban-appropriate development. The fact that a number of other developers expressed interest in building student housing on the lot, however, makes me optimistic both about the demand for such housing downtown, and that the City might write an RFP specifically for student housing on the lot. Some other mix of uses would be fine, but another big box store or parking lot there would be a huge loss.

In my opinion, Mayor Gatsas has been all too eager to accept anything a developer proposes for too many high profile sites. From the Elm Street Market Basket to a one-story pharmacy at Rivers Edge to various proposals for Granite Street, in the past few years we've lost a lot of sites that could have had a huge impact on future urban development, because the City under the mayor's guidance has both failed to update its zoning to be more urban-appropriate and been too willing to bend to developer's proposals. If the same fate befalls the Pearl Street lot, it would be a tragedy for the city. And if the same fate befalls the Pearl Street lot when an excellent and exciting proposal was already on the table, it will also be a travesty.

Whether it's allowing land to be underused at the moment rather than holding out for more suitable uses in the future, or turning down a very promising idea in favor of an unknown, the City and the mayor have too often looked for the immediate gain rather than long-term impacts. Sure, it's great to have a downtown supermarket rather than an empty parcel, but was it worth forfeiting the possible site of a future multi-modal transit center and transit-oriented development? And sure, anther developer offered $300k more than the $900 VMD offered for the Pearl Street lot, but is $300 worth it if putting it out to bid means the city loses out downtown student housing? In both cases, the projects that were not built would have had much larger impacts in the local economy (and the property tax base), but the City opted for the short-term gain. I really hope that that is not the case with Pearl Street.

As for Anthem moving downtown, that is definitely good news. It shows that the interest is still strong among major employers to move from the suburbs to the heart of the city, and having workers downtown will definitely positively impact local businesses and restaurants there. I just hope it doesn't mean my dad will lose his favorite parking spot in the garage for when he goes to the Wild Rover.
 

MonopolyBag

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Between UNH Manchester, NHIA, SNHU, and St. Anslem, there is plenty of demand for student housing. Also, more housing will allow for greater growth of the colleges. Even if from day one all the apartments are not occupied, it will allow for more to come further and live in the city near the college.

And there are other smaller schools too in the area. The biggest problem would be shuttles and buses.

Anthem is moving downtown, they will occupy the first three floors of the old BoA building. No idea about parking. I care for aquariums in Anthem right now in Goffs Falls. I may be losing that job though if they do not decide to get a new aquarium. I see the move good though. However now there is a huge building looking to be occupied in Goffs Falls. But on a good note, I did lease a building in Manchester and have been working on opening an aquarium store there. Doors open mid Sept. / early Oct. 45 Blaine St. is the address. The old Fabric Fix building.

Also, Stop and Shop is closing all locations in NH. More vacant buildings on S. Willow.
 

M. Brown

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Anyone know what is happening on elm st near Paul's Executive Auto?
 

M. Brown

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Anthem is moving downtown, they will occupy the first three floors of the old BoA building. No idea about parking. I care for aquariums in Anthem right now in Goffs Falls. I may be losing that job though if they do not decide to get a new aquarium. I see the move good though. However now there is a huge building looking to be occupied in Goffs Falls. But on a good note, I did lease a building in Manchester and have been working on opening an aquarium store there. Doors open mid Sept. / early Oct. 45 Blaine St. is the address. The old Fabric Fix building.

.
Cool!
 

MonopolyBag

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M. Brown. Come and visit. I will post info here once open or know a date.

Anagnost owns that land, demolished some buildings, and I assume is moving forward on the NH Liquor store. It is a good thing too, I don't think Manchester has any NH liquor stores yet. Oh wait, never mind. (sarcastic)

The concept I saw was a car oriented, New England stile medium sized retail store. Not the best yet not the worst development for that area.

Assuming there is still diversity and things stay compact, it is not horrible, however it would have been nice to have some street side development with multi-tenant use.

The Apt. building right near the new Elliot pharmacy looks like someone cleaned it up. The new Easter seals renovated that abandoned motel across the street from the Elliot. Alibaba, an ethnic food marketplace is taking over the old Yamaha vacant glass building on Second Street. Manchester Mill Music now is in the Van Otis building. The gas station is no longer vacant next to the Elliot by rivers edge. The Apple B plaza on Second Street now has that open space on the end where i think Tadeshis was. The Staples and Hobby Lobby plaza on S. Willow has a new building going up next to the Buffet. The hotel on Second Street near Exit 4 is getting a new facade. The park with Elliot at Rivers edge still doesn't exist (wtf). The bridge is going to be built connecting Goffstown to Manch. walking path. Some new Cafes and Shops on Elm St. The new Bank at the North tip of S. Willow street is open and complete. And St. Mary's new HQ is open and old one is gone. Macy's is getting work done in Bedford. New offices (I think) on S. River Rd behind the new Medical building.

Things are moving, just nothing exciting. This is all that I know off the top of my head. There was a lot of talk about the Southern end of Elm development, sale of buildings, tenants moving, etc. I was looking to open up my aquarium store there originally. Didn't happen though. Anagnost has a hand in many of the deals.

Of yeah, and Stop and Shop and I think even Shaws is closing Manchester locations.
 

M. Brown

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M. Brown. Come and visit. I will post info here once open or know a date.

Anagnost owns that land, demolished some buildings, and I assume is moving forward on the NH Liquor store. It is a good thing too, I don't think Manchester has any NH liquor stores yet. Oh wait, never mind. (sarcastic)

The concept I saw was a car oriented, New England stile medium sized retail store. Not the best yet not the worst development for that area.

Assuming there is still diversity and things stay compact, it is not horrible, however it would have been nice to have some street side development with multi-tenant use.

The Apt. building right near the new Elliot pharmacy looks like someone cleaned it up. The new Easter seals renovated that abandoned motel across the street from the Elliot. Alibaba, an ethnic food marketplace is taking over the old Yamaha vacant glass building on Second Street. Manchester Mill Music now is in the Van Otis building. The gas station is no longer vacant next to the Elliot by rivers edge. The Apple B plaza on Second Street now has that open space on the end where i think Tadeshis was. The Staples and Hobby Lobby plaza on S. Willow has a new building going up next to the Buffet. The hotel on Second Street near Exit 4 is getting a new facade. The park with Elliot at Rivers edge still doesn't exist (wtf). The bridge is going to be built connecting Goffstown to Manch. walking path. Some new Cafes and Shops on Elm St. The new Bank at the North tip of S. Willow street is open and complete. And St. Mary's new HQ is open and old one is gone. Macy's is getting work done in Bedford. New offices (I think) on S. River Rd behind the new Medical building.

Things are moving, just nothing exciting. This is all that I know off the top of my head. There was a lot of talk about the Southern end of Elm development, sale of buildings, tenants moving, etc. I was looking to open up my aquarium store there originally. Didn't happen though. Anagnost has a hand in many of the deals.

Of yeah, and Stop and Shop and I think even Shaws is closing Manchester locations.
I see much of this stuff going on but didn't really know anything about it. Where do you get all this info? BTW The bridge you were talking about between manch and goffstown...is that just being rebuilt to handle pedestrians or is there a new bridge that I don't know about?
 

Hik0

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It's the old rail trestle over the Piscataquog, not the Pinard St. bridge. It would link up the Piscataquog and Goffstown rail trails and be exclusively for bike/ped use.

In other news, Giorgio's has proposed building another location of their restaurant chain, complete with a "function room" on the currently vacant corner of Granite and Second streets. The other locations are typical suburban restaurants (parking lots galore), so I hold out little hope that this one will be any different.
 

MonopolyBag

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Yeah, Giorgio's restaurant, which would attract people, probably would not be a good development, unless it was a street side building with tenants above. i doubt that would happen though.

I am not sure if they are completely rebuilding the bridge though. They probably are, it looks fairly sketchy and I think is all wooden. I may be wrong though.

I get all the info from just aimlessly driving around at times and I have invested interest in the city since I am opening a business there. I have talked with many store owners etc. and have worked with my real estate agent who works Manchester.

But much of the "info" I have is simple observation and I do not know much about it. Heck, FrankLloydMike is from Cambridge and knows so much about Manch. At least I am from NH and work in Manchester.
 

MonopolyBag

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Union Leader read yesterday that Manchester will repair and replace the brick and cement on Elm Street. This is good because it needs it. It was a short article, simply stating that the sidewalks will be redone, in cement lines with brick along Elm.

Also, Bass Island Park has had a recent renovation (bushes removed from front of street, I think to open up the park to help prevent shady stuff from happening in the parking lot, I only say this because I have seen cops over there a lot and now it is more open) but new grass and plants we planted along with new walkways in pavers. It is a surprisingly nice park. It is very nice for the area it is in.
 

Seanflynn78

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This is great news. I live off the Goffstown Road/Amosgkeag exit. My wife and I are always baffled by the design of the on and off ramps. If you do not use this exit and have to, well good luck! We are both from Connecticut where the highways are much easier to navigate.

Unrelated topic, I have heard from several people in town that Trader Joe's is looking at opening a store on South Willow St. at one of the recent vacant stores. Has anyone else heard any of these rumors?
 

MonopolyBag

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The amount of vacant land taken up by this exit is ridiculous, and for what, a chaotic mess of roads that is not easy to navigate.

A better exit will help local business. Usually an exit is good for business, not here.

Trader Joes, no clue.
 

hockey92

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^thats great i used to live by there and that hotel/motel whatever it was was a huge eyesore and takes up a lot of space around good new retail
 

FrankLloydMike

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I've been following the forums here, but haven't posted anything in awhile.

Hopefully they can improve the interchanges at Exit 6 & 7 without gobbling up more land. The sketches I saw awhile back looked promising, but the danger is that it could end up like Exit 5 where the improved interchange was accompanied by an enormously widened street (Granite Street in that case) with very little accommodation for pedestrians or bicyclists (less of a concern here than at Exit 5) and making an unattractive gateway to the city (very much a concern at Exit 6). If they can improve the highway access while improving the gateway, that would be great news. I am very much against widening I-293 through downtown, however, and aghast at the amount of money being spent on highways in the state while very little is spent on public transit. If Manchester is going to be an attractive place to live, that balance needs to shift a bit.

I have fond memories of visiting the old Wayfarer Inn--we used to go there occasionally for the brunch buffet when I was a kid, and I loved wandering the halls over and around the waterfalls. I'm glad to hear that they'll be keeping the old sawmill, but the comments from the planning board make the project sound pretty bland. I hope that improves--this could be a prime spot for a truly mixed-use development, not just apartments next to fast food restaurants.

I haven't been and the building is hardly anything special, but the Ali Baba grocery store on Second Street sounds great--just the sort of interesting and quality food store that is missing in that part of town. Speaking of that part of town, SNHPC is doing a study to improve Second Street. I just hope it is thwarted by Tea Partiers like the Plan Pinardville study was.

I haven't heard anything about Trader Joe's moving in, but it wouldn't surprise me. I sent them an email about the open stores in Manchester, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Plus, with the new stores in Portsmouth and Nashua, Manchester seems like the next logical step. I'd rather see them go into the former Stop n' Shop on Valley Street or the former Vista Foods on McGregor Store (though I'd rather see that whole strip mall redeveloped) since those spots are more in the city than South Willow. If the mayor hadn't been so eager to build a suburban-style grocery store on Elm Street, Trader Joe's could have been part of a mixed-use development around an intermodal transit center where the Market Basket is now, and Market Basket could have gone into one of the now-vacant spaces.

Which gets me to my next point. I'm very disappointed that Gatsas won re-election. I think he's a decent man who really cares about the city, but I amazed at his lack of vision. I don't think there was much vision from Guinta when he was mayor, but he benefited from leftover projects from the Baines years, and he spent half his time in office positioning himself for a congressional run anyway. But Gatsas has shown none of the vision that characterized the Wieczorek and Baines years from 1990-2005. I was really hoping that Arnold would win, but I at least hope the close election will get Gatsas to develop a vision to guide the city in his third term. Manchester can't afford two more years of haphazard development, especially as the economy and thus hopefully development pick up.
 

MonopolyBag

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The NH Liquor store on Southern end of Elm looks awful!

The Ali-Baba store kinda is interesting.

Blockbuster is gone

The new Manch Mill Music store is impresive

Granite Street is not that bad. I walk it fine (minus the piles of bird crap under the bridge)

Widening of 293 through downtown? What do you mean? Am I missing something? They are redoing the HW there the exits. It is right next to my aquarium store on blaine Street.

I don't know about Second street, something as simple as just repaving the road with new sidewalks is fine. What more could the street have with the exception of the abandoned houses next to the gas station. It is not until you get past the Thrift store (going North) that the street needs work. maybe this is what you were referring too. But that whole dog park/city park, and the red oaks village area. Potential to be a nice neighborhood, just needs money put into it. This is right were my shop is so I am there all day. Between granite and Queen City bridge is where Second street could use work. Not just the road, but the buildings, houses, sidewalks, streetscape.

If anyone is ever in the area, stop in at 45 Blaine Street even though I am not open and say hi. Hopefully will be soon.
 

Seanflynn78

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As a resident of Manchester, I must say the city has some really great projects which been developed and in the works. Hopefully the south end of Elm Street spurs growth with recent construction and renovations to present buildings. I spoke to the owner of Mangia (hands down the best Italian restaurant in Manchester), and the whole reason he moved his restaurant to the southern part of Elm from Hooksett was the possibility of more foot traffic and general pedestrian activity which was not there 5 years ago. The new Elliot Urgent care facility, Farnum Center, and mixed development where the state liquor store is going will help businesses according to Angelo. I guess there are other projects that are developing for the south end of Elm Street. I can't recall exactly what they are, but from what I remember, residential towers come to mind.
Let me preface the following by writing that I consider myself fiscally conservative, and socially liberal, but find the Tea Party to be have an obnoxious undertone. However for cities such as Manchester to become an appealing place to live, the public schools have to be acceptable. Manchester is notorious in the Granite state for having sub-par public schools. So my main concern with Manchester as a property owner and a citizen is the public schools do not receive support from the locals politicians and even parents. My current property taxes are outrageous for owning a tiny tenth of an acre, and my kids will be going to a school where the average class size between 25-30. All while the side walk in front of my house has more grass on it than most of my backyard. Who knows where the property tax money flows to. My point being that if my taxes are going to be high, then at least have acceptable public schools, and if they did this it would make Manchester an extremely desirable place to raise a family. But I guess the fiscally conservative part of me should just be quiet ;) Pretty much a walking contradiction.
 

M. Brown

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The NH Liquor store on Southern end of Elm looks awful!

The Ali-Baba store kinda is interesting.

Blockbuster is gone

The new Manch Mill Music store is impresive

Granite Street is not that bad. I walk it fine (minus the piles of bird crap under the bridge)

Widening of 293 through downtown? What do you mean? Am I missing something? They are redoing the HW there the exits. It is right next to my aquarium store on blaine Street.

I don't know about Second street, something as simple as just repaving the road with new sidewalks is fine. What more could the street have with the exception of the abandoned houses next to the gas station. It is not until you get past the Thrift store (going North) that the street needs work. maybe this is what you were referring too. But that whole dog park/city park, and the red oaks village area. Potential to be a nice neighborhood, just needs money put into it. This is right were my shop is so I am there all day. Between granite and Queen City bridge is where Second street could use work. Not just the road, but the buildings, houses, sidewalks, streetscape.

If anyone is ever in the area, stop in at 45 Blaine Street even though I am not open and say hi. Hopefully will be soon.
What is HW?
 

MonopolyBag

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Sorry, HW = Highway.

Yeah, I have nothing to say about the school, since I never went to public school here. Friends did, they seemed happy.

Towns and Cities always have high taxes and yet not enough put back into the community. It is how America runs. That is all I can say.
 

FrankLloydMike

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The NH Liquor store on Southern end of Elm looks awful!

The Ali-Baba store kinda is interesting.

Blockbuster is gone

The new Manch Mill Music store is impresive

Granite Street is not that bad. I walk it fine (minus the piles of bird crap under the bridge)

Widening of 293 through downtown? What do you mean? Am I missing something? They are redoing the HW there the exits. It is right next to my aquarium store on blaine Street.

I don't know about Second street, something as simple as just repaving the road with new sidewalks is fine. What more could the street have with the exception of the abandoned houses next to the gas station. It is not until you get past the Thrift store (going North) that the street needs work. maybe this is what you were referring too. But that whole dog park/city park, and the red oaks village area. Potential to be a nice neighborhood, just needs money put into it. This is right were my shop is so I am there all day. Between granite and Queen City bridge is where Second street could use work. Not just the road, but the buildings, houses, sidewalks, streetscape.

If anyone is ever in the area, stop in at 45 Blaine Street even though I am not open and say hi. Hopefully will be soon.
Too bad to hear about the liquor store, but I'm not surprised. Huge missed opportunity though.

Granite Street is walkable, but it's not enjoyable--it's too wide to ever imagine being a nice place for pedestrians. And that the widening didn't include bike lanes is shamefully short-sighted. Maybe once the trees in the median fill in a bit more, it will be a decent boulevard east of the river, but west of the river it's made it nearly impossible for Granite Square to ever have a real sense of place again.

I've heard different things about possibly widening I-293 through downtown Manchester in addition to the new exit configurations. I think it's a terrible idea--there's almost never any traffic except for on the exit ramps, and it would be a huge waste of money.

I think the idea for Second Street is that south of Queen City Ave, there are far too many curb cuts, way too much ugly signage, and it's not geared at all toward pedestrians. They could update the zoning there to promote more infill development, more shared curb cuts when businesses are redoing their driveways, maybe some plantings along the road, better sidewalks and so on. Beautification and increasing owner-occupancy north of Queen City Ave would also be good objectives.
 

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