What's the context here, for an out of towner?
The urban context is an open piece of land at the southeast corner ofGranite & Second Streets
near Granite Square and at the Exit 5 off-ramp gateway to downtown. It's a hugely important piece of land, both because of its prominence as a gateway and marker to downtown, and for its potential to extend the vibrancy and density of downtown to the long-neglected, but formerly beautiful Granite Square neighborhood center.
The area surrounding the Granite Landing property is a dense, formerly German neighborhood, and one of the few urban areas that is not on a grid in Manchester. While it's seen better days economically and has plenty of absentee landlords these days, it is home to several parks, including the new dog park for the city and a rail-trail that connects to downtown, and the only branch library in the city. NeighborWorks also renovated and restored several apartments and houses nearby recently, so it's poised for a resurgence if the city promotes urban growth and infill development there.
The site in question has been empty since these buildings were razed in the 1970s or 1980s to make way for the southern half of the off-ramp. The beige building in the background still stands at the southeast corner of Second & School St:
The northern side of the intersection--the actual "Granite Landing" site referred to on the Manchester Economic Development Office (MEDO)'s website was cleared in the last several years to complete the northern half of the off-ramp. It was previously a small parking lot for nearby West High School and a few private buildings.
The political context is that MEDO has had an RFP seeking an "urban-scale, commercial office, retail or mixed-use development" project for the parking lots on the north side of Granite Street
for over a year. At some point over the summer, the state and Mayor Gatsas were discussing locating a suburban-scale, auto-dominated state liquor store on the Manchester Development Corporation
(MDC, a non-profit, quasi-municipal-owned development corp)--owned parcel south of Granite St. For legal reasons, MEDO needed to exchange their property with the city-owned property to the north in order to lease it to the state. I'm not sure if the exchange ever went through, but the a few months ago the state decided against locating a liquor store because of some environment mitigation work that would need to be done on the site.
Until the 1980s, this elegant building stood at the southeast corner of Granite and Main Streets. While this isn't the site in question, MEDO's goal of getting urban-scaled development on the open parcels along Granite Street would lead to the sort of vibrancy seen in this photo; a Dunkin Donuts will lead to more gas stations, parking lots and absentee landlords in the neighborhood: