Bass Pro Shops opening in Hooksett delayed until February
By BENJAMIN C. KLEIN Union Leader Correspondent
HOOKSETT — Bass Pro Shops was aiming for a November debut — just in time for Christmas — but town officials now say the construction company working on the new store is encountering delays that could push the opening until February.
Construction crews from the Pike Co., a N.Y.-based construction company, are working to convert the old Lowe's Home Improvement store across the street from Walmart on Commerce Drive into a Bass Pro Shops.
"I think they are more concerned about doing it right rather than fast. They are expanding around the country right now; maybe they are finding it's taking longer on this stuff than they originally thought," Town Administrator Dean Shankle said.
According to Austin Turner, who is serving as project manager for the new Bass Pro Shops store, any delays workers have encountered are just normal issues that come up during construction projects.
"The guys are working hard and fast to get this done, I know Bass Pro is hoping to have the shop open by winter," Turner said.
Despite the potential delay, Shankle said Bass Pro Shops could be valuable for the town, bringing in extra restaurant traffic and adding jobs. With Bass Pro Shops coming to town, it could promote other development in the area and make surrounding retail properties more valuable, he said.
"Officials from the company said the new store could create around 300 jobs, and it could make Hooksett a gateway to the north, because people come from as far as Florida to New Hampshire, and with the location just off the highway, people will stop there for anything they forgot," Shankle said.
Shankle also said that Bass Pro officials have expressed interest in hooking up to a sewer line that Walmart now has tentative plans to build.
"Right now they are on a septic system, but my understanding is that once the sewer goes in they might be able to expand the inside the store, which might include more food options inside the store. That would be an improvement for them, because they would be able to do more stuff," Shankle said.
Shankle said Bass Pro Shops officials have been easy to work with because they respond to town comments and are prepared for committee and board meetings. Last week, at a Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting, Bass Pro Shops received permission to build a 90-foot-tall fire tower that will include signage.
"It will be visible from the highway," Shankle said of the tower. Bass Pro has also received permission from the Planning Board regarding the signs they want to put up on the store.
"They made some good points at the Planning Board meeting, and now we are going to form a committee to look at our signage ordinance in town," Shankle said.