Business neighbors to Elm Street developer: Let's talk
So far, all they know for sure is Ronald Dupont asked the city to shut down an alley between Elm and Willow streets for a development project that's still a bit of a local mystery.
Amiet was relieved to know the Board of Aldermen had tabled the proposal until owners of abutting properties receive more information about the development plans. So far, very little has been provided."They need to talk to us," Amiet said. "There is a clear process in place for these things, and it should be followed."Mayor Ted Gatsas said Dupont's plan is for a combination commercial/residential area to be built across from the new Market Basket in an area that's home to a handful of businesses, vacant buildings and lots overrun with weeds west of Valley Cemetery and a few blocks south of Verizon Wireless Arena."There's not too much revenue being generated at those buildings," Gatsas said. "I'm sure the developer wants to get in the ground and get started."Dupont, president of Red Oak Property Management and Oak Leaf LLC, did not respond to numerous messages left by the Sunday News last week at his office and on his cell phone.
He had a development plan in the works for the same area in 2008, when he wanted to bring a major commercial tenant to the old Goulet Supply Building, 379 Elm St., and rebuild the block around it with renters who wanted upscale apartments and additional development. It didn't happen.
Members of the board of aldermen toured the area on Tuesday, when Dupont agreed to modify his request to only the northern section of the alley, leaving Van Otis and Manchester Music Mill's shipping zone free for the moment. But Dupont still wants the south end discontinued along with Summer Street, which is being used as a parking lot. "In order to start architectural plans, I need a footprint for the building," Dupont said at the site Tuesday.
"Nobody knows what he's trying to do there," said George Zioze, the longtime owner of the building north of Van Otis. "They should submit some kind of plan. What are they going to do with that? I'm concerned about the back alley. We've been using it for 40 years, and there was no question about anything."
"That alley I will defend," Zioze said.
It may not come to that. Zioze and Amiet both said they would like to meet with Dupont, hear directly from him what he is planning and taking it from there. Right now, they aren't real clear on much, and the frustration level is growing.