MANCHESTER — A former director of real estate for the St. Louis public school system is the new executive director of Intown Manchester, replacing Stephanie Lewry, who is retiring in late July after 15 years with the organization.
Martha Roveda, who moved to downtown Manchester with her husband and one child on Easter weekend, will begin her tenure at the downtown organization on July 22.
She has more than 13 years of economic development experience in the public and private sectors, most recently handling the sale of school district properties in St. Louis and working with various stakeholders in their redevelopment.
Before that, she was with the St. Louis Development Corp. for seven years as a commercial development specialist and deputy director of real estate. Her husband was transferred by his company from St. Louis to an engineering position in Merrimack, prompting their move to New Hampshire.
She said her experience in St. Louis will enable her to hit the ground running in Manchester. “I worked on the overall impact of economic development in the downtown area and throughout the city of St. Louis,” she said. “I basically assisted developers in identifying places to build and put in new businesses. Prior to that, I worked on the revitalization of a particular neighborhood and the urban corridor.”
Roveda spent many hours during her first weeks in Manchester visiting downtown businesses, and stopped by the offices of Intown Manchester to introduce herself and offer to volunteer.
“I met her briefly when she just stopped by to talk to us,” said Intown Marketing Director Sara Beaudry. “She was curious about what we did, given her background. I thought she would really be a great asset, given the direction we are taking.”
That direction has largely been determined by an Intown Summit and subsequent recommendations that provide a framework for development focused on creating more residential units and retail businesses in the downtown area.
Roveda attended the presentation of a report on the summit earlier this month, and was impressed by the results.
“Stephanie and her team have done an amazing job,” she said. “My hope would be to bring more of a mix downtown, where there are some great restaurants. We can hopefully bring some residential and retail into the mix that will help draw more people downtown.”
Lewry has been with Intown Manchester since shortly after the organization was founded as a nonprofit management company contracted by the city to operate the Business Improvement District (BID), which is funded through a special assessment on downtown commercial properties.
“Stephanie is just such an amazing person, and we’ll definitely miss her,” Beaudry said. “But she has assured us that she will only be a phone call way if we need anything.”
Denis Dancoes, chairman of Intown Manchester Board of Directors and head of the search committee for Lewry’s replacement, said the group started work in March and quickly narrowed the field to six finalists.
“We are very fortunate to have found someone with the breadth of knowledge and experience that Marti brings to the table,” he said. “Although she’ll have big shoes to fill, I can tell you I have confidence that she’ll be a great asset to Intown Manchester and our stakeholders in the central business district.”