A lot of Portsmouth people have escaped the higher costs there and moved to Dover. Now it's the biggest town on the seacoast.
Developer pitches Dover waterfront plan
By JEREMIAH ROOD
Democrat Staff Writer
-- Elements proposed: Public waterfront park; 40,200 square feet of retail/office space; a 5,000-square-foot restaurant; up to 184 condominium units.
-- Public Park: The layout of roughly three acres of park land is still up for discussion. The waterfront committee is looking for ideas from the public.
-- Hurdles: More negotiations are needed before the project can move forward. Also, odor from the city's pump station needs to be addressed and the Washington Street bridge needs to be built.
-- Bottom line: The new development is projected to add $1 million in new taxable revenue. The project is also expected to bring between 350 and 400 new residents to the city. Once the bridge is under way, construction could start within a year and a half.
DOVER ? One firm's vision to develop the waterfront includes more than just condominiums. They boast a proposal that intertwines with the city's thriving downtown and offers more green space along the Cocheco River than Henry Law Park.
Dickinson Development, which designed and built the Jordan's Furniture and I-Max Theater in Reading, Mass., hopes to develop the roughly 30-acre Cocheco River waterfront.
Representatives toured the city Thursday, pitching their plan to a number of local groups, including an editorial board at Foster's Daily Democrat.
During that meeting, Mark Dickinson and his firm explained a new plan for the space, including the construction of a public waterfront park, roughly 40,000 square feet of retail/office space, up to 184 condo units, a wide boulevard and infrastructure to serve the needs of the area.
The Massachusetts firm then met with Dover Main Street and ended their day by taking questions from the entire 13-member waterfront committee.
Dickinson's firm comes to the table with more than 20 years and 3 million square feet under its belt. The more than 25-year-old company has developed office parks, shopping centers, hotels, and industrial buildings throughout New England and Florida.
The pitch: "This is Dover"
Dickinson's firm considers the waterfront development to be an extension of downtown.
The firm tried to give the development a Dover feel, with the proposed Washington Street extension forming its core, with residential streets radiating from it. The retail and office spaces would be positioned off of Washington Street, allowing for easier access and more parking, they said.
The firm made its point using an aerial photo, which superimposed a concept plan over the currently vacant riverfront property to show how the model fits and matches the existing city. Their goal is to have a residential neighborhood buffered with retail and office space along Washington Street.
To access the site, residents and visitors would cross a Washington Street bridge, which does not yet exist, but is part of the state's 10-year transportation improvement plan. The company removed a proposed extension that would have connected the development with Washington Street, through Maglaras Park and onto Henry Law.
The project's 120 foot strip of green space will connect with space in Henry Law Park, weaving the complex into the fabric of downtown. The initial design had much less space and was structured to devote the prime realestate to condominiums.
The make-up of the park has yet to be determined.
The waterfront committee plans to solicit public input on the new park, which would be larger than the existing Henry Law Park.
Dickinson said he is willing to make a contribution to any plan the city decides upon, but said the city may need to fund some of the work, depending on what the final plan.
"A park can be a $1 million; a park can be $20 million," Dickinson said. The company is willing to help, but within fiscal reason. Dickinson stressed this plan is an example of what Mass. calls "smart growth," which allows for the expansion of the urban core in order to make more room for people to live closer to services in the city center. It would further add to the mix of uses in downtown and add between 350 and 400 new residents.
Dickenson hopes the development will spur further growth in downtown on both sides of the river and has already begun discussing a new hotel with local property owners.
Design for the condominiums incorporates turn of the century Queen Anne look details, including dormers, bay windows, shingles and a mix of textures and colors similar to those that already exist inside the city.
Each of the three story buildings will be set between 4 and 5 feet off the ground, allowing residents to enter their homes by walking up a short flight of stairs.
The extra height will allow for the construction of underground parking. Each of the units will have two spaces: one outside and another under the building. The underground parking is accessible via garage doors on the ends of each building.
Each condominium will be listed at $400,000 ? a price Dickinson's marketing study found would appeal to people aged 45 to 60 and who make roughly $75,000 per year. Their study indicates there are roughly 5,000 people within 15 miles of the site that would fit that demographic.
The mix of the units might change, but the development includes 184 two-bedroom units at 1,400 square feet each under the current proposal. Dickinson said the market might drive a mix of one, two or three bedroom units, allowing for a range of consumer options.
The proposal no longer includes a marina or a hotel, although a small public dock is planned. The dock will make use of an existing rocky outcropping and allow another public access tot he river.
The project will be conducted in phases.
Work will begin with sections abutting the Washington Street Extension, then moving to units closer to the water.
Dickinson stressed that while the later phases will likely be condominiums, the market could dictate otherwise and shops or galleries could be built on the lower floors.
While Dickinson plans on completing the entire development, the phase approach would allow another developer to finish future work if prematurely Dickinson withdraws.
Dickinson told the committee Thursday night he is young enough to finish the project, but old enough to not have to.
The firm submitted its initial proposal to the committee in March. The proposal was initially met with reluctance because some felt it had the feeling of a "gated community." Members were also concerned about the lack of public access shown in Dickinson's initial proposal.
After the that proposal, the committee continued to meet with Dickinson and discuss the project and the city's needs. Dickinson said Thursday the company heard those concerns and the new plan was drafted in an effort to make the development more a part of Dover.
The Core Committee met this Sept. 26 behind closed doors and agreed to move forward in negotiations with Dickinson Development.
The committee approved sending a letter to the Dover Housing Authority recommending that it designate Dickinson as the developer that the committee will enter into negotiations with for purposes of waterfront.
The next step is for the committee to finalize terms and sign a purchase and sales agreement. The Housing Authority has the final approval of the project.
Should an agreement be reached, it would be at least a year and a half before they could break ground. From there, they expect needing three to five years to finish.
The committee also plans on having a public hearing to get resident's feedback.
A specific date has not been set, but the hearing is expected to be in the next couple of weeks.
There are some pics here