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Developer interested in prime downtown Nashua lot

Union Leader Correspondent

January 17. 2018 11:41PM
This parking lot on School Street in Nashua has drawn interest from an area developer. (Kimberly Houghton file photo)

NASHUA — An undisclosed developer is interested in a prime downtown parcel for an unknown project, and is working with the city to pursue the initiative.

According to Tim Cummings, economic development director, the developer responded to a request for proposals (RFP) previously issued by the city asking developers to submit ideas for the redevelopment of the city-owned parking lot on School Street.

Although the RFP included a preliminary conceptual plan indicating the opportunity for a housing development with 60 to 80 units, Cummings told city officials this week that it is too premature to publicly disclose details on the proposal.

“We are looking to attract development on that site … this is a very complicated project and it will take some time to work through,” he told the aldermanic planning and economic development committee.

In order for the undisclosed developer to make the project a reality, Cummings said some streetscape issues will need to be addressed, as well as market conditions.

The nearly 30,000 square foot parcel is located about one block from Main Street, and is situated across from the Harbor Homes facility on High Street. It now serves as a public parking lot with about 80 spaces.

Cummings said the developer interested in the site is a very respected developer who is currently doing significant work in Manchester, but has hotels and office buildings based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as well.

He said the developer submitted a proposal to put a development in that would take up the entire surface parking lot.

Currently, zero taxes are being collected from the city-owned site. According to Cummings, the city would collect about $150,000 in new tax revenue if the project comes to fruition.

He did not disclose whether the developer is proposing housing units, commercial or retail space. However, the RFP indicates that the city seeks to enter into an exclusive negotiation agreement with a developer that will develop a market rate residential project, although other uses are allowed.

James Vayo, the city’s downtown specialist, said earlier that the property on School Street has much more potential than the existing parking lot, and he is optimistic that it will soon be transformed into apartments or townhouses.

He explained that it is not uncommon for municipalities to issue an RFP in an attempt to make city-owned property more functional. In this case, Vayo said the existing parking lot is typically empty during evening and nighttime hours, adding the nearby High Street parking garage -- just a few feet away -- is available for daytime parking needs.

Preliminary artist renderings indicate the potential for a four-level apartment complex or townhouse units with private patios on the School Street lot. A lower level garage could offer about 40 parking spaces for residents, and a first-floor retail storefront could be included, according to the conceptual plans included in the RFP.

While housing is the primary focus, Vayo said previously that the property could also potentially be utilized for a hotel or mix of retail uses.

“I’m concerned that losing that parking without making up for it somewhere else could be problematic,” said Alderman Ernest Jette, noting there will be an additional demand on the nearby High Street parking garage if the downtown performing arts center, a separate proposed project, receives approval.

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