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Salem planners conditionally OK Tuscan Village roadway project

Union Leader Correspondent

September 19. 2018 8:50PM
Town Planner Ross Moldoff said the Tuscan Village developers are building a "small city" at the former Rockingham Park property during a special planning board meeting Tuesday night. (Courtesy)

SALEM — The Planning Board Tuesday gave conditional approval to a major roadway construction in and around Tuscan Village.

At a special meeting of the board, developers for Tuscan Village presented conceptual plans for the “South Village” section of the development and a 281-unit apartment building.

Before the conceptual presentations of the South Village and The Hanover Company apartment building, Tuscan Brands CEO Joe Faro addressed the board, saying he and his co-developers are excited to get started.

“It’s been a long time and I know this is what everyone is waiting for,” Faro said.

“We’ve been looking forward to this part of the project for a long time,” said Town Planner Ross Moldoff. “It’s building a little city, basically.”

The presentation covered 880,000 combined square feet of retail and office space, including entertainment venues, restaurants and a 160-room luxury hotel.

Newly unveiled renderings of South and Central Village show a town center with a new Tuscan Kitchen restaurant at a major street corner facing a roundabout, with the Tuscan logo in the stonework of a fountain. Behind the long L-shaped stretch of retail buildings is a small artificial “lake” and green space.

Across the street, at an entertainment center made up of two buildings on either side of an outdoor concert venue, an aerial walking bridge will connect the two buildings. About 800 to 1,000 people will be able to gather at the concert space.

Besides a cinema, comedy club and bowling alley, architect David Chilinski mentioned a space for a virtual reality entertainment company. Faro said he could not name the tenant yet.

Retailers facing the lake will be selling supplies that are used for water recreation, which can be tested in a sandy beach area, Chilinski said.

A banquet hall is connected to the hotel and there will be space for outdoor weddings by the Lake. There will also be a fitness building along Route 28.

“I think this gives you sort of a glimpse of where retail is going,” Chilinski said.

During a presentation of the apartment complex, David Hall of The Hanover Company said this will be the first New Hampshire development for the company, which is based in Houston, Texas. He said the company’s founder, a Dartmouth College alumnus, named the company after Hanover, N.H.

He said the units will be designed to be most attractive to millennials and older people looking to downsize.

“This will not flood the Salem School District with school children,” Hall said.

Kayvan Zarea, development partner with The Hanover Company, said the building amenities will include a large dog run, bocce ball field, swimming pool and firepit. The building wraps around its outdoor space with an opening on the south side.

There will be 407 parking spaces and a handful of private garages.

Moldoff said the five-story building has a high residential density with about 40 units per acre. The apartment buildings already built on the Tuscan Village site by The Dolben Company have a density of 30 units per acre, he said.

Moldoff also said the developers would need to pay about $1.5 million in impact fees.

Members of the board asked for information about things like first aid areas, public restrooms and electric car charging stations. There was also some disagreement about how big the parking spaces should be.

Mark Gross with MHF Design said they’ll be back before the board on Oct. 16.

The board also approved revised plans to do infrastructure and road work, including a redesign of the section of Rockingham Park Boulevard that will connect motorists from the Interstate 93 off ramp to the new development.

An island will be removed to make a five-lane roadway, with two turning lanes heading into the mall, and another two lanes heading into Tuscan Village, according to Heather Monticup, assistant vice president with engineering firm Greenman-Pedersen, Inc.

Gross said work on Central Street will start in the next couple weeks and finish before the year ends.

Overall, the board gave minimal feedback.

“I think you have a wonderful project here,” said Board Chair Keith Belair.

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