NH touches will abound in new I-93 rest areas

New Hampshire Union Leader
September 08. 2014 9:19PM

Alex Ray, owner and founder of the Common Man, points out a detail on the plans while giving a tour of the food court area at the new Hooksett Welcome Center on Monday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

HOOKSETT — The Hooksett rest area redevelopment project is on schedule and on budget, with the goal of bringing all things New Hampshire to motorists on both sides of Interstate 93.

On Monday, Alex Ray, owner of the Common Man family of restaurants, took participating organizations and members of the public on a tour of the northbound side of the project. The Common Man chain is one of the major investors in the project, which is set to be named “Common Man Hooksett” once completed.

The northbound facility will contain a gas station, convenience store, state liquor store, food court and visitor center.

The gas station and convenience store will be open 24 hours a day, while the food court and visitor center will have expanded hours.

Currently, a gas station and a state liquor store exist on the northbound side of the highway.

The new facility will contain the convenience store, food court, visitor center and expanded state liquor store.

According to Ray, the new liquor store is set to open within the next few days, with the old building slated to be demolished within 10 days. Ray said approximately 30 people were working in the new store, stocking shelves and getting everything ready to open before the end of the week.

Ray said the remaining parts of the building on the north side are set to open by Christmas Eve. The southbound project is intentionally scheduled for completion five months behind the northbound side, he said.

It’s expected to be completed by May.

The project appears fairly similar to most rest area developments: give the traveler what they need and want — food, bathrooms, information — in a timely manner.

New Hampshire touches will be everywhere. All the participating businesses — from the food to the full-service bank on the north side to the project’s investors — are New Hampshire-based. Parts of the ceiling contain lumber from an old barn that once stood in the northern part of the state.

The project’s architects, engineers and most of the work force are all either from New Hampshire or based in the state, Ray said. The northbound side will have a “Made in New Hampshire” store and will host an area dedicated to local artisans and their crafts. Both sides will have customized visitor information areas.

The northbound side will give travelers information on attractions and activities in the state, while the southbound side will tap into the “live, work, play” model the state has been using to entice visitors to become permanent residents. According to Ray, this means brochures on local schools and municipal facilities or information on taxes and purchasing homes or land in the area.

“We want people to stay here,” Ray said.

More information on the project can be found at http://www.thecman.com/arewethereyetnh/.

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