January 06. 2013 1:06AM

New shopping center planned for Nashua

Union Leader Correspondent

NASHUA - An eyesore along the Daniel Webster Highway will soon be revitalized into a single-story shopping center following its recent acquisition by a Massachusetts company.

Linear Retail Properties LLC has acquired two separate parcels at 219 and 285 Daniel Webster Highway, and plans to develop one of the sites this summer.

"Nashua is one of the top destination retail markets in New England. It definitely has a strong market, and there is clearly a tax advantage to relocating in southern New Hampshire," said Aubrey Cannuscio, partner of acquisitions for Linear Retail of Burlington, Mass. "We are already looking at more opportunities on the Daniel Webster Highway for even more small retail shops."

The property at 219 Daniel Webster Highway was previously owned by Cumberland Farms Inc. Linear purchased the parcel for $1.45 million and plans to raze the existing structure and develop a 12,000-square-foot retail property.

"It is just an eyesore now, but there is really a strong demand for this site," said Cannuscio. Although no leases have been signed by potential shop-owners, he said a number of retailers are interested in the future project and its ideal location in the city.

City Planning Director Roger Houston said Thursday that the Cumberland Farms and Exxon gas station have been vacant for several years.

"It is one of the few vacancies in that area," said Houston. "I am happy to see something will finally be going in there."

Although formal plans have not yet been filed at the city's Community Development Office, Cannuscio said the project will be moving forward relatively quickly and be reviewed by the Nashua Planning Board in the next few months. He predicts that between four and seven tenants will likely lease retail property at the new shopping strip, with the average tenant size about 2,000 square feet. Linear Retail already owns two other properties at the Daniel Webster Plaza, so Cannuscio described the adjacent parcel as the "missing puzzle piece" for future development.

Linear Retail's second acquisition at 285 Daniel Webster Highway is the current site of Chili's Bar and Grill, which will remain the popular family restaurant, according to Cannuscio.

The nearly 6,000-square-foot building across from the Pheasant Lane Mall was purchased for $3.75 million. He described the purchase as an investment property that will continue to be leased by Chili's.

"These two purchases represent different ends of the spectrum of the types of properties we seek to purchase," he said in a news release. "One is a single tenant property in a terrific location, and the other is a ground-up development opportunity strategically located next to a much larger center that we already own."

The closings on both of the properties took place in December. Linear Retail now owns four properties in Nashua, with three of them housed along the Daniel Webster Highway and the fourth at Amherst Street Village on Route 101A.

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Kimberly Houghton may be reached at khoughton@newstote.com.