Manchester Infill & Small Developments

FrankLloydMike

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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.
You're right on about the balance between taxes and services. Ideally, taxes would be low and services reliable, but I think something needs to change in Manchester (and New Hampshire) when it comes to the tax structure and allocation of funding. I would describe myself as fiscally prudent (I don't think there's anything "conservative" or prudent about deferred maintenance), and I think spending money through taxes to invest in certain infrastructure and programs can pay dividends in the future.

Compared to many of the surrounding towns, Manchester actually has a relatively low property tax rate. Obviously, it doesn't have the same property values as some of the suburbs like Bedford, so a rate of $18 per $1000 on a property valued at $200,000 in Manchester doesn't amount to the same revenue as the same rate would on a $500,000 house in Bedford, but it also means a lower tax bill. What I don't like about the tax cap--aside from the undemocratic idea of a simple majority in the past being able to require a supermajority to make a different decision in the future--is that it arbitrarily sets tax rates. For instance, Manchester effectively cannot raise taxes above the rates that were set as a result of the budget-cutting years of the Guinta administration, which coincided with the last years before the recession and the resultant drop in property values. So Manchester is not only stuck with a tax rate of, say, $18 on $1,000, but with property values declining, the $18 may now be collected on a property valued at $150,000 instead of $200,000. When you couple that decline with the fact that taxes were capped at a time of limited investment and budget cuts, then you have what amounts to forced austerity for city spending, which results in the city not having the means to invest in its future. It's no surprise that issues like the quality of education, the availability of public transit, and the state of sidewalks and roads have come to a head after four years of the tax cap which was preceded by four years of budget cuts.

Manchester needs to raise its taxes in order to properly invest in its future. And if higher taxes mean better schools, sidewalks and so forth, then I think people will agree that it's a worthwhile trade-off. And if they don't, then there's always the "tax cap" of elections every other year. But without increased revenue and sustainable funding, it's going to be very hard for the city to get private developers to want to invest in the city, or to get families to want to set up or keep roots in Manchester.

The city also needs better assistance from the state, as well as more flexibility in how it generates revenue. Suburbs like Bedford, Hooksett and Londonderry directly benefit from their proximity to Manchester and the sort of amenities it alone in the region can provide, but because of municipal boundaries they don't have to help fund the many needs that a city like Manchester has that more affluent suburbs don't. The same is also true, though more indirectly, of towns elsewhere in the state, which benefit from amenities like the airport and the availability of major businesses in Manchester, but don't have to fund the infrastructure or social services there. That's unfair and untenable. A simple, low income tax (perhaps accompanied by a decent homestead exemption for local property taxes) could offset the costs that communities like Manchester now bear, ensuring a more equitable revenue source, both in terms of the individual ability to pay and in addressing needs that don't follow town lines. Assuming that an income tax is not in the cards, then cities and towns in the state should be given greater flexibility in assessing taxes and fees, so that Manchester could, say, add .25% to the state's 9% hospitality tax. It doesn't sound like much, and most diners and travelers probably wouldn't notice the difference, but it could allow Manchester to make some money on its vibrant dining and hotel economy.
 

MonopolyBag

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The building, yes, good. Student housing, psh... Just make it straight residential. That is what the city needs. More inner city middle class to luxury apartments.

Although I would rather see the building be student housing than sit there vacant or offices, and that short video concept adds additional floorspace to the property, students often do not stay in the city. And the city feels like it is predominantly inhabited with lower class residence. The only money come sin from students and surrounding towns.
 

Seanflynn78

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I love the idea of a new mixed building where the old Police Station is, but God is it ugly. Well the colors anyway. I'm guessing that is suppose to be geared towards the SNHU crowd.
I would be so excited if they had the light rail come thru Manchester like that. I could easily walk to a couple stops. Not to mention the value of properties would go up which are within walking distance of the stops.
Anyone else looking forward to the Bass Pro Shops opening up in Hooksett? It will be a great place to take the kids for an hour and just browse around and of course people watch!
 

MonopolyBag

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I JUST came across the Bass Pro Shops too. Even though I do not have kids, yes, it is an alright store. I am guessing, the old Lowe's building?

Ugly colors?! I love that look! And colors.
 

MonopolyBag

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Google Maps seems to have the neighborhoods in Manchester. If you click on it, it shows the outline of the neighborhood. (Downtown, Hallsville,Piscataquog, Bakersville)
 

MonopolyBag

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In the parking lot where they proposed a concept of granite landing, a dunkin donuts with drive through is going there.
 

Seanflynn78

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I get my haircut across the street from this Dunkin donuts they are building and they mentioned to me the Dunkin in Granite Square (South Main Street) will close as it does not have a drive thru. I was hoping for a mom and pop donut shop like Brother's donuts in Franklin, NH. Which by the way has the best donut I ever had.
 

SHAZBAT73

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Anything going on in Manchester these days? This thread has been dead for over a year now.
 

deh74

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You don't know? Manchester no longer exists, nothing happens there anymore.
 

hockey92

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Not Manchester but its something in the general area..
Woodson Commons Londonderry, NH (10 miles south of Manchester)
http://www.londonderrynh.net/tag/woodmont-commons

Also, 40,000 sq\ft Whole Foods going in Bedford along with 8,800 sq\ft retail, two restaurants, a bank, 7,564 sq\ft fitness center and 73 apartment units pretty close to Bedford's Manchester border.
http://nerej.com/79508
This is actually a decent project and well needed to get rid of that eyesore of an inn that sat there unused for years



 
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SHAZBAT73

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You don't know? Manchester no longer exists, nothing happens there anymore.
Thanks for the update! I'll take any NH news!

I think Manchester might still be there though - SETI picked up some faint signals from that area a few months ago. Boston and Portland AB forumers may not be alone!
 

MonopolyBag

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I'm still here... located in Manchester. Just a bunch of drugs. Little development, and any that is happening is all auto dependent.

I have my fish store here now. www.fishmike.com
Located at 45 Blaine Street

And I have been to a Bike Manchester meeting, I was impressed, I just wish I had more time to attend their monthly meetings as I do bike at times.
https://www.facebook.com/bikemht

Elliot at River's Edge has yet to finish the other building and the park.
Vacant old Police Station

Roads are being paved, and some new bike paths and signs have gone in.

The old Farnum center was bought by Elm Grove and micro apartment are going in there. Hopefully this will not fail.
http://manchesterinklink.com/will-micro-apartments-on-hanover-street-reshape-manchesters-identity/
 

SHAZBAT73

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I'm really surprised that there isn't more large scale development going on in Manchester. The population is growing, a lot of magazines rate it high on the tax friendly and livability scale and the local economy appears to be solid. It just seems to me that this town could use a few more residential highrises near the river or downtown core.
 

MonopolyBag

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The old police station I think is going to become storage, which is sad. And then work has started this week on a new apartment building along the river between the existing condos and the ball park.
 

MonopolyBag

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Granite and Second street off of exit 5 on 293 has fencing going up. No idea why...
 

FrankLloydMike

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The Goffe Mill Plaza (Whole Foods, apartments, etc.) is going up, and now there are plans for another mixed-use development next door. Macy's has sold their building, which will be demolished and replaced by a combination of retail, office, hotel, entertainment and a parking garage to be called Bedford Place. (Would it kill developers to get a little more creative here--in a mile or so of South River Road, there's already Bedford Square, Bedford Grove, Bedford Highlands, Bedford Mall, and now the even more generic Bedford Place--how about something like Woodbury Square or something more imaginative but still place-specific?)



From an architectural and urban planning standpoint, the proposed development is definitely an improvement over the existing Macy's, but that's a pretty low bar. I do think it is much more interesting than Goffe Mill Plaza, which is really a pretty standard suburban strip mall building with a standard suburban apartment building behind it. It's a shame, too, because the site with the brook there is fairly interesting, and could have been the focal point of a somewhat more ambitious project like what is now being proposed next door.

The site plans for Bedford Place have "shared streets" and an internal pedestrian-focus, with retail lining a relatively narrow internal street with multi-story buildings--something that does not exist in Bedford, or anywhere in the area outside downtown Manchester, for the most part. Still, the proposal is very internally focused and separated from South River Road, which seems like a missed opportunity to integrate it into the larger, and increasingly dense area around it. Part of that is the existing Carrabba's restaurant that they have to work with, but it would be nice to see the new single-story buildings and parking lots along South River Road replaced with another multi-story building that presents some sort of face (maybe even ground-floor retail?!) along South River Road.

With the apartments at Goffes Falls next door, this project has the potential to be a mixed-use walkable neighborhood (albeit a developer-manufactured one), which would be unique in Bedford, and again relatively unusual outside of downtown Manchester. That will require that at least pedestrian access be provided across the brook between Goffes Mill and Bedford Place, and that it not feel like a back door to a parking garage or something.

This project would also benefit from having a reliable and frequent transit connection to downtown Manchester. That's something that the MTA, Manchester, Bedford (which officially supports transit along South River Road but doesn't provide funding to the MTA) should look to developments like this to contribute to. A bus that ran more than once-an-hour and later than 7pm between downtown Manchester and Bedford Place could be beneficial to both areas, as well as everything in between.

I'd love to see a development like this proposed for some underutilized sites in Manchester, like the Rite-Aid on McGregor Street, which could be replaced with larger-scale retail facing McGregor and Street with parking, housing and offices above.
 

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