Londonderry project called an economic engine
Right now, it's a road to nowhere. But if Pettingill Road in Londonderry can be extended to intersect the new access road to the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, it could become an economic engine to rival the Pease International Tradeport in the Seacoast or the Centerra Resource Park near Dartmouth Hitchcock in Hanover.
That would create thousands of new jobs and millions in new tax revenue, according to Russ Thibeault, president of Applied Economic Research in Laconia.
Thibeault, who just completed a year-long analysis of the project, presented his findings on Tuesday to a regional economic development group, Access Greater Manchester, in a meeting at the Manchester Chamber of Commerce offices.
State and local officials have known for years that extending the road and utilities at a cost of $12.5 million presents great potential for developing nearly 1,000 acres of buildable land in Londonderry near the airport. Thibeault told the group of city officials, planners and business owners that the time is now.
"The next steps are really in Londonderry's lap," he said. "This study has created some momentum. This is going to happen. It is only a question of when."
That question of "when" has been floating for the past decade. Earlier studies by the state Department of Transportation in 2003 predicted that development of the land would create 5,000 to 6,000 jobs.
Little action was taken on the concept, however, until the new access road, Raymond Wieczorek Drive, was completed in 2011. Pettingill Road is now fully permitted and engineered, but the clock is ticking, with permits beginning to expire in July 2014, Thibeault said.
He told the group that the land around Pettingill Road presents a unique development opportunity, given the excellent access to the interstate highway system and the airport. "There is essentially no competition for its large, flat sites serviced by sewer and water elsewhere in the state," he said.
The town would install utilities along the road, and tenants would pay for extensions to individual properties in a development that could mimic Pease with its diversity of tenants and economic impact.
Thibeault outlined a variety of funding options, including economic development grants, general obligation bonds, private-public partnerships and impact fees.
The original Pettingill Road in Londonderry, at the south end of the airport's Runway 17/35, ends in a dirt road at the intersection of Industrial Drive. Planners envision the new extension as a tree-lined boulevard running from that intersection to Wieczorek Drive at the intersection of Roundstone Drive, the road connecting Wieczorek to Route 3A.
The 1,000 acres that would then be open for development is about equal to the buildable space at Pease, which is now at capacity, and much more than Centerra - the two sites Thibeault focused on in his study, paid for by the Londonderry Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
"The charge was to develop an objective analysis of market support for the development, and to evaluate the financial benefits and costs to the town, given the pace of development that I believe would occur once the road is built," he said.
Based on the experience of Pease and Centerra, and current improvements in market conditions, Thibeault projected that 150,000-square-feet of construction would occur each year on land surrounding the road, creating 10,000 to 15,000 new jobs over time, and generating $200 million to $300 million in new property value the town could tax.
The best bet for the town, he said, would be to line up a major tenant before the road construction begins. He said a 500,000-square-foot tenant would give Londonderry an immediate break-even on its investment.
Ownership of the land around the road varies, with some parcels owned by the airport, and others held by private investors like the Tamposi-Nash Real Estate Group Inc.
"Market conditions have been weak, but are gradually improving, and despite the current weakness are adequate to justify the town's investment," he said. "Overall, there is no more attractive, tax-generating investment Londonderry can make in itself than the Pettingill Road infrastructure."
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Leo Paradis said:
Here we go again...
March 16, 2013 7:03 am
Larry stafford said:
sounds like a great idea
March 16, 2013 7:22 am
FRANK DEFILIPPI said:
Of course we are hearing the same song and dance from the owners Woodmont Commons: thousands of new jobs and new tax revenue will be created. Now if I take a ride around Londonderry, there are vacant building all around; like the building next to Market Basket or the strip mall where Shaw's is located. Or how about the copious amount of vacant buildings near the airport.
March 16, 2013 7:49 am
Howard McCarthy said:
Good for Londonderry. Manchester gets another CVS and a nondescript bank. $9 an hour.
March 16, 2013 9:12 am
Chris Herbert said:
Londonderry should pass building codes that require the latest in energy efficient designs, materials and construction techniques. These codes would actually make the area more, not less, attractive to potential clients. The best time to start saving utility money is when the construction is new. As the economy heals this acreage will sell out because of its location, but the type of tenant will be important too, and tenants who are on the leading edge of energy efficient construction typically represent the smartest money in the market--in any industry. That means better paying, more secure and long lasting jobs. Which means even though Londonderry will gain the most significant tax revenue, the quality of the new jobs will benefit other towns and Manchester as well.
March 16, 2013 9:29 am
Gary Kerr said:
Perhaps other optional opportunities have yet to be discovered if the property in-question is actually developed. If for commercial uses, and said use type is allowed by the FAA for airplane and ground personnel safety issues, then a rail link to the existing corridor could also be advantageous. Depending upon future needs and uses of the airport and its surrounding land, a designated rail link corridor for both freight and passenger service would add options and additional transportation viability for future lessees. Keeping options open and available for consideration, not creating a closed mind related to costs and money, is the basis for the message suggested here. Prior planning is necessary if future developments actually occur in a cost-effective way. Limiting transportation options to only black-top highways may make guys like Pike or Audley happy, but they may also bring limiting factors for other commercial uses.
March 16, 2013 11:25 am
Lyle Ohrt said:
It's such a great area for business that there are multiple empty buildings just waiting for tenants within a 5 mile radius of the proposed development. Ask me how I know. I used to work for a company which employed approximately 200 people that is moving to California. Standing in the parking lot you could see the runway. Ultimately the bottom line is tax revenue for the city/town that these developments are built. These developers always use the "Job Creation" card to argue their point but what kind of jobs are likely to be created at such a development? I'm guessing jobs that would not even pay the amount needed to sustain a household.
March 16, 2013 11:43 am
Bob Lake said:
Better take care of all the vacant property first.
March 16, 2013 12:08 pm
Gary Kerr said:
HOWARD McCARTHY -- Did you see the part of the road project description that shows this project IS in Londonderry and NOT in Manchester? With that being the case, then why do you think that more benefits should not go to Londonderry than Manchester, which is what your post implies? ##LYLE OHRT -- The real meaning of "ultimately" is a profitable return on investment to the developer. That has absolutely nothing to do with a producing a bottom-line of tax revenue to the city/town government. Sure, different cities/towns have different real estate values and tax rates; however, a development done by the private (profit&greed) sector is for their benefit as the number benefactor, with town's benefits far later in the payoff hierarchy. ## BOB LAKE -- Maybe the developers don't value the "vacant property" of which you speak as meeting their needs.
March 16, 2013 2:41 pm
Bob Watson said:
Looks like a great place for a casino. Plenty of room and right next to tan airport? That's a no-brainer in my opinion...
March 16, 2013 6:25 pm
Joshua Tessier said:
Lyle Ohrt is right. If it was such a great idea and there was so much money just waiting to poor in the airport, and other land held by private investors like the Tamposi-Nash Real Estate Group Inc. would be jumping on this project. Instead they are waiting for Londonderry to foot the bill first and then see what happen's. Sounds like a sound business move to me. If your looking for a crystal ball take a look at Delta Drive. It's right down the street and half the building lots are empty and the other have that were built on have plenty of room for new tenants. Unfortunately no ones relocating even though the town just repaved the entire road that no one uses.
March 18, 2013 8:40 am
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