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Nearly all permits in place for large, mixed-use project in Merrimack

Union Leader Correspondent

April 24. 2017 10:15PM
This artist rendering from 2015 depicts what the five proposed apartment buildings will look like along the Daniel Webster Highway in Merrimack. (Kimberly Houghton/file photo)

MERRIMACK — Representatives from the John J. Flatley Company say they are closer to breaking ground on a major development project that will bring 240 apartments and a large retail area to the Daniel Webster Highway.

Although a groundbreaking date has not yet been set, the real estate agency has received nearly all of its permits to begin the first phase of the mixed-use project, which will be similar to a separate Flatley facility at Nashua’s Tara Heights.

“They are going to be basically the same buildings that we have in Nashua,” said Kevin Walker of the Flatley Co.

The entire project, once complete, will convert nearly 150 acres of land into 240 apartments, 300,000 square feet of retail space and 120,000 square feet of industrial space adjacent to the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics site; the future retail space will require its own individual site plans and additional approval from the Planning Board.

Five residential buildings to accommodate 240 one- and two-bedroom garden-style apartments, a pool, tennis courts and clubhouse are included in the plans, although the first phase of construction includes four residential buildings.

“You guys have been working on this a long time,” Robert Best, chairman of the Planning Board, told the developers last week during a compliance hearing on the conditional use permit. The first phase was approved by town planners at the end of 2015.

Walker said they would like to break ground sooner rather than later, but they are still waiting on one final permit from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, which he expects will be received in the next few weeks.

Once complete, the project is anticipated to generate an estimated $1,191,000 in municipal tax revenue, resulting in a positive net fiscal impact of approximately $700,000 on an annual basis, states the application on file at Merrimack Town Hall.

Ann Johnson of 2 Lantern Lane approached the Planning Board last week expressing concerns about the development’s proximity to her neighborhood.

“We have put some money into our property, and we continue to do so,” said Johnson, adding she is worried that the apartment buildings will impact their privacy and create additional traffic along the Daniel Webster Highway during peak commuter times.

Walker said the closest building will be nearly 150 feet from the closest property line.

“We went to quite a bit of work to move these (buildings) as far away from those properties on Lantern Lane that we could,” Walker reassured neighbors.

Nelson Disco, Planning Board member, said he was disappointed that a proposal to possibly add parking to the nearby Homestead Restaurant, which was floated during the early stages of the development project, has since been removed from the plans.

Creating a walkable path that could connect the two sites would have promoted a community vibe, explained Disco.

Walker has described the future residences as upscale apartments that will hopefully attract retail use once occupied. Local planners agreed to four apartment buildings in the initial phase, but said the fifth apartment building cannot be constructed until commercial space is added to the development.

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