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Construction to begin on new I-93 Exit 5 travel plaza

Union Leader Correspondent

July 08. 2014 7:30PM

LONDONDERRY — Construction crews will soon descend on the site of the new Londonderry Travel Plaza at Exit 5.

Slated to open in late 2014 or early 2015, the new plaza will feature a 24-hour Red Arrow Diner, convenience store, multiple fueling stations and a 9,000 square-foot New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlet, state and town officials confirmed on Tuesday.

Andrew S. Davis, administrator of real estate and leasing for the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, said the new Londonderry store at 137 Rockingham Road would be smaller than the one that recently opened on Elm Street in Manchester, which is 12,000 square feet.

By comparison, the two state liquor stores under construction in Hooksett will each be 20,000 square feet when completed.

“As you can see, we cover a pretty wide range,” Davis said. “But if all goes well, we may be ready to open before the year ends.”

According to state liquor Commissioner Joseph Mollica, the liquor commission has renovated or relocated 15 of its stores in recent years.

The new Exit 5 store’s opening wouldn’t replace the existing state liquor store on Garden Lane, which is located in the plaza adjacent to the new Market Basket store.

“In fact, we’re currently contemplating expansion of the older store,” Davis said. He stressed that the commission is still in negotiations with the Garden Lane landlord, and plans to renovate and expand that store are in the early stages.

Plans for the new Travel Plaza began late last year.

This past November property owner Floyd Hayes of Aranosian Oil Company in Concord, along with project engineer Jeffrey Merrit, presented conceptual plans to the Londonderry Heritage Commission.

The site has most recently been used as a Sunoco fueling station and convenience store, though as part of the plan, the current store is being demolished with the site to be combined with two adjacent land parcels.

A single, 15,000-square-foot structure will house the liquor store, as well as a 3,000-square-foot convenience store and a 3,000-square-foot restaurant.

In late April, officials from the Red Arrow Diner confirmed plans to open their third New Hampshire restaurant at the new Londonderry travel plaza.

Red Arrow President Carol Sheehan revealed her intentions that spring, when the company launched its new menu at its original diner on Lowell Street in Manchester, and its second eater at Union Square in Milford.

Sheehan purchased the diner in 1987 and opened the Milford location in 2008, when she announced potential opportunities for future Red Arrow franchise locations.

She said the new Londonderry diner would feature the same menu as her other two restaurants and would be open 24 hours.

On Tuesday, Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith said the pending opening of the new travel plaza could be just the beginning for the Exit 5 area.

“People sometimes forget about this part of town,” Smith said. “But this is an area where we’ll soon have over 200 more housing units, and plenty of land that’s yet to be developed.”

“I think we’re going to see a continued pattern of growth at Exit 5 in the next few years,” he added.

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