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Development projects to bring welcome change to Londonderry

Union Leader Correspondent

May 26. 2014 8:17PM

LONDONDERRY — With FedEx and United Parcel Service already expected to bring 1,000-plus jobs to the Pettengill Road area, state and town officials are gearing up for major changes — both at Pettengill Road and at the pending Woodmont Commons development.

Last week, officials from Pratt & Whitney announced expansion of a third-party relationship with UPS, with plans to build a 600,000-square-foot Northeast Logistics Center in the Pettengill Road area. Set to open in June 2015, town officials said the center could bring 400 to 600 jobs.

This summer, construction is to begin on a 300,000-square-foot FedEx warehouse, which is scheduled to open in early 2015 and employ approximately 500.

David Preece, executive director of Southern NH Planning Commission, called the development of Pettengill Road “an exciting boost for the region,” one he said could ultimately bring “anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 jobs to the area.”

“This is going to have secondary impacts on surrounding towns like Manchester, Litchfield, Derry and Windham,” Preece said on Friday. “And if Woodmont Commons gets built, that would mean major commercial and housing opportunities in the same area for those working at Pettengill Road. It all goes hand in hand.”

Preece further noted that the village-style development being proposed at Woodmont Commons “would likely set the tone for that style of development in other communities.”

“It makes a lot of sense,” said.

Town Manager Kevin Smith said Londonderry has been working diligently to bring in new businesses and encourage existing ones to branch out.

“We’re very pro-business,” Smith said. “And I think the fact that we have both FedEx and UPS coming to town is a testament that Londonderry is a great place to do business, live and raise a family.”

Woodmont Commons

A development agreement for Woodmont Commons was recorded into the Rockingham County Registry of Deeds earlier this year, but legal issues have made for some delays. On 600-plus acres, the $1 billion development is to be built on former orchards along Route 102 and Interstate 93. More than 1,000 new homes as well as office and retail space, medical facilities and hotels are part of the plan.

In late March, Woodmont Commons developer Mike Kettenbach, principal of Pillsbury Realty Development, LLC filed a $22.5 million lawsuit against the owners of the Demoulas/Market Basket supermarket chain.

The lawsuit alleged that Demoulas Supermarkets breached a May 2011 contractual agreement, where the company had agreed to fund and construct a road serving both as an access point to the Route 102 Market Basket store and the Woodmont Commons development.

Daniel Luker, one of Kettenbach’s attorneys, said Thursday the supermarket chain had retained counsel and, after being granted an extension by the court, is now required to respond to the lawsuit by the end of May.

“Pillsbury is ready, willing and able to immediately move forward with the design and construction of the initial gateway into the Woodmont Commons project — a development DeMoulas asked to be included in — but despite repeated requests from Pillsbury over the past six months, Demoulas has failed to take any steps to lay out and build the access road that was required by the town as a condition of the 2011 opening (of the current Market Basket) store,” Luker said.

Once the legal battles are put to rest, the town of Londonderry will work with Woodmont developers to bring forward the project in stages. Londonderry planning officials said they hope to see the first set of site plans later this summer.

Pettengill Road area

Located off Raymond Wieczorek Drive (the airport access road), the Pettengill Road area encompasses nearly 1,000 acres.

A December 2012 analysis of development opportunities there estimated a cost of $12 million to complete the road, with the potential of creating up to 10,000 new jobs.

On Thursday, state Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, said legislation to create an infrastructure bank that would leverage funds for financing massive projects such as Pettengill Road has cleared the House and the Senate and is expected to soon be signed into law by Gov. Maggie Hassan.

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., is working toward similar legislation at a federal level.

“We’re seeing a lot happening right now because of the work of so many people,” Carson said. “For me, it’s always been a priority to bring attention to the enormous potential of this road. And we’re starting to finally see results.”

It won’t just be Londonderry reaping the long-term benefits, she said.

“This is great news for the entire state,” Carson said.

Kathy Wagner of the Londonderry Commerce & Visitors Center agreed.

“There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that Pettengill Road is going to be like a locomotive: it’s not going to stop,” Wagner said. “We’re seeing a very high caliber of companies coming that are already expressing interest in this area.”

And the site near the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is ideally located, she said.

“This is exactly where we want to see this growth,” Wagner said. “We’ve known for years that Pettengill Road was a diamond in the rough. Now it’s becoming more of a shining beacon.”

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