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Applebee’s is one of several buildings along Route 3/28 in Hooksett that recently renovated its interior and exterior. Inside, there are photos of local teams and community groups focusing on everything Hooksett. (Ruth Mariano Photo)

Looking good - Renovations to buildings more than cosmetic

Some promising changes have been coming to Hooksett in recent months. Anyone driving by the Hooksett Road and Martins Ferry Road intersection has likely noticed them.

It actually started about a year ago when children’s trick-or-treating festivities were interrupted by the weather debacle ominously referred to as “Snowtober.” During that time, the Union Leader reported that PSNH had 237,000 customers out of power during the peak outage period.

Fortunately for Hooksett residents, however, that was also the same time that the old McDonald’s restaurant on Hooksett Road completed its renovations. A lively time was had by all as they congregated in the new McDonald’s, enjoying some heat, warm food and – for many – wi-fi service so they could check on other affected family members and get news and weather reports. With an updated menu, some purportedly healthier choices, and a new café feel, the beginning of the area’s revitalization was begun.

Now, drivers will notice that Hooksett Road itself has even undergone considerable updating, as well, with new pavement and markings. The Jersey barriers, construction trucks and other disruptions seem to be fading away.

More important than the shiny new pavement, though, is what now lies under Hooksett Road in that area: an expansive new drainage system. Brand new rails guard the drainage sites in the back of the R.K. Plaza inhabited by Kmart and other businesses. Perhaps the days of “Lake Kmart” are finally at an end?

PSNH has also opted for a new look with a significant upgrade to its building at that site, said Martin Murray, manager of New Hampshire media relations at PSNH.

Although we’re just seeing the final results now, this three-year project involved significant interior work to the building originally constructed in the 1950s and only recently purchased by PSNH (they were formerly just leasing the space).

“Insulated exterior metal panels, along with new windows, have given the building a much more contemporary look,” said Murray, which “resulted in a very energy-efficient facility.”

Other exterior improvements include repaving, drainage work, and landscaping improvements.

Perhaps the newest facelift in the area is the revamping of the Applebee’s restaurant. Owned by the Apple American Group LLC franchise, Hooksett’s Applebee’s was only one of Applebee’s 66 New England restaurants that have undergone more community-themed renovations that began last February. The Hooksett store renovations began on Oct. 7, and were completed by Oct. 10, said manager Michael Canterbury, with the store reopening on Oct. 11.

People in town love it, said Canterbury. He proudly gave a tour, showing how the main family dining area had a photograph theme of local events and people, including local school sporting teams from West, Trinity, Central, Spaulding and Derryfield; a large Old Home Day photo at the front entranceway; Hooksett Fire Rescue in full uniformed regalia; a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Kathie Northrup of the Hooksett Heritage Commission; Hooksett Boy Scout Troop 292 at a recent parade, and even more Boy Scouts loading into canoes at the Amoskeag Rowing Club; and a large wall mural of the Hooksett of Old with a photo of a ferry that then carried folks over the Merrimack River to Robie’s store. Canterbury then showed the dining area closer to the bar featuring highlights for older patrons, including photos from UNH and SNHU. Finally, the main bar area predominantly features New England sports teams, with the Green Monster and Gillette dominating the rear wall.

Canterbury said that many people are coming in now just because they heard about the new look or because they’ve heard that they – or their sons or daughters or fathers or mothers now have their photos on walls. As customers walk in, it isn’t unusual to hear exclamations of, “Wow! Look at this!”

Although Canterbury is new to the Hooksett store, he said it’s “very tight-knit up here … like Cheers, where everybody knows everybody.”

The new drainage system around the Hooksett Kmart is meant to prevent the flooding that has happened many times in the past few years in that plaza. (Ruth Mariano Photo)

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