GOFFSTOWN — The old mill building at 15 Factory St. is slated for mixed-use development into a restaurant and condominiums, with plans to restore the adjacent dam to supply electrical power to the site.
Resident Alan Yeaton proposes dividing the property into two parcels. The mill would contain a restaurant on the first floor and 10 multi-family units on the second and third floors and 54 townhouses would be built behind the mill building. All housing would be owner-occupied, with no age restrictions.
Yeaton came before the planning board with a conceptual plan on Nov. 14, and was granted three conditional use permits to allow a restaurant with no drive-through service, operation of the dam and water supply, and a building footprint of an allowed 8,000 square feet into 8,600 square feet when the three existing buildings — the mill, power house and boiler house — are connected. He would also remove an old concrete foundation and loading docks on the property.
Yeaton said the site has been used commercially for about 150 years, and the parcel was larger until 1960 when the town purchased some land for the pump station. For more than two years, he had tried to develop the site for commercial purposes but to no avail.
“There wasn’t one company interested in relocating to this site, so back to the drawing board I went,” Yeaton said.
His godchild is interested in creating a restaurant and a bakery in the mill building, which may include a mini-brewery.
“The mini-brewery is kind of combined with the restaurant facility. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be a brew pub, but there seems to be interest in brewing beer and ale on this site,” he said.
Yeaton’s contact with the state, which owns the dam, was received favorably and his intent is to lease the power house and make it operational. The current owner, Janigan Associates, currently holds the lease, which Yeaton would purchase.
“I tried to make this into a zero-net project. I want to produce enough energy on this site so I don’t have to buy it. Right now (the power house) is in dire need of repair, but it could provide all electricity for the site,” he said.
He is proposing to build 54 townhouses, each having individual exterior colors, windows and roof lines.
“All units would be for sale. I want them to be owner-occupied so they have a vested interest in making this a success,” he said. “Putting people on this site would encourage business development on Main Street.”
The entire project, if approved, would be done in two phases over four to five years.
“I think this would be a very successful project for the town of Goffstown, and would go a long way to serving the needs of the town and provide additional character for the town,” he said.
Several residents spoke in favor of the project, including Dana Benner, Kathy Ball, David Pierce and Robbie Grady. No one spoke in opposition.
Benner asked the board not to allow rental units on the property, but members said they couldn’t put that kind of restriction on property owners.
“We don’t want to see it morphed down the road into government-subsidized housing,” said Benner. Ball, who is also town clerk but spoke as an abutter, said it is important to preserve the character and historic nature of the community. Yeaton, she said, also took the time to visit abutters to explain the project.
“He felt the ideas of everybody in the community was part of the project’s success. I respect him for that,” she said.
Pierce, of the Friends of Goffstown Rail Trail, favors the mill’s use as a restaurant, restoring the dam’s operation, and removing the loading dock so that section of the trail would be more aesthetic for users. Grady, executive director of Goffstown Main Street, spoke in favor of the mixed use of the property.
“Certainly, restoring the hydroplant would be very beneficial to the town and that the dam as an operational dam gets to stay intact, which is a very big plus. The number one goal is also preserving the mill as one of the last historic pieces of our industrial era.” Yeaton is expected to continue designing the project, and bringing an engineer study and more detailed plans to the planning board.