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Alternate garage image designs get tepid response

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 25. 2018 12:55AM
In this preliminary design, a large metal American flag, inspired by an iconic 1914 photo, would have covered the west face of a new parking garage under construction in the Millyard near Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. (COURTESY)

MANCHESTER — Back to the drawing board. A 95-by-50-foot drawing board.

After expressing concerns last week about plans to cover one side of a new Millyard parking garage with a large metal American flag due to the sheer size of the project, developer Peter Flotz had five alternative image designs — many incorporating birch and other trees — sent to members of the city’s Heritage Commission for review during a meeting Tuesday night at City Hall.

“To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t like any of them,” Heritage Commission Chairman Kevin McCue said. “I’m a minimalist. I would like to see it just plain. There’s a certain aesthetic value to that.”

The Heritage Commission last year gave initial approval to the design inspired by an iconic 1914 photo of a giant flag hung on the side of a Millyard building where it was made. The flag was to go on the west side of the six-story garage, located next to Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.

Construction on the approximately $50 million garage started April 2. It is expected to open in early summer 2019, and be leased by Southern New Hampshire University.

The 95-by-50-foot display was to use perforated aluminum and include silhouettes of people at the bottom of the image.

“I guess there was some objections to that based on the size,” said McCue during Tuesday’s meeting, though he said he wasn’t sure who was objecting to the design. McCue said he only learned of the concerns after reading Flotz’ comments in the New Hampshire Union Leader.

“When we tried to lay it out on the actual proportions of the metal panels, it was way taller than the building itself,” said Flotz, whose company owns the garage property and adjacent Langer Place Mill. “There is no change in thinking, but I think everybody misinterpreted the flag as a done deal.”

Flotz did not attend Tuesday’s Heritage Commission meeting.

John Clayton, executive director of the Manchester Historic Association, expressed support for the metal flag.

“I thought it was a real opportunity to make the building fit in the Millyard by using an iconic image,” Clayton said. “People were really struck by that imagery. My fear is there is a bait and switch going on here.”

Clayton offered to go through historical archives and come up with five alternative image designs for commission members to review and submit to Flotz for review.

“I just had a vision,” said Aurore Eaton, the commission’s secretary. “How about an Amoskeag steam fire engine, with the horses pulling it? The Amoskeag steam fire engines are famous around the world.”

“We could do locomotives,” said Daniel Peters, Research and Facilities Manger at Manchester Historic Association. “There are plenty of different options you could offer up to them.”

Heritage Commission members voted unanimously to reject the design alternatives submitted by Flotz, opting instead to have Clayton and Peters present five alternatives to the commission for review. Clayton said he felt the alternatives could be ready by “the end of the week.”

McCue said a special meeting of the Heritage Commission may be scheduled in the next few weeks to review Clayton’s ideas before they are sent to Flotz for review.

“I want everyone to be comfortable with what’s being presented,” McCue said. “We’re going to be looking at this for a long, long time.”

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