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L.L. Bean, Legal Sea Foods among those eyeing Tuscan Village project, developer says

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 13. 2018 1:45PM
A community of apartments and condos is taking shape at Tuscan Village in Salem at the site of the former Rockingham Park. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

SALEM — L.L. Bean, Legal Sea Foods and Boston Interiors are talking with the developer of Tuscan Village about possibly locating at the nearly $1 billion development.

“It gives New Hampshire a head start into creating its own economic bubble,” developer Joe Faro said during a tour of the site, in the shadow of the Mall at Rockingham Park.

The project, on the former Rockingham Park site, calls for 2.75 million square feet of new development on 170 acres, including 50 acres in North Tuscan Village.

It will create an estimated 6,000 jobs, Faro said.

Upward of 300 people are working on the site now, with 2,000 construction workers expected within the next year, said Faro, CEO of Tuscan Brands Development.

Faro, who lives in Hampton, said the property will produce $10 million in new property taxes yearly.

The first residents to move onto the property — in new apartments with a starting price of about $2,000 a month — are expected in August.

Developer Joe Faro shows a new Ford dealership at Tuscan Village at the site of the former Rockingham Park in Salem. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

A new Ford dealership will be the first business to open, on May 15. A Market Basket supermarket should open late this year.

A five-story medical office building, which will include Catholic Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital facilities, will cost an estimated $250 million.

Salem Planning Director Ross Moldoff called the mixed-used development “transformational” for the town.

“The big question” is how nearby roads, including Route 28 and Rockingham Park Boulevard, will handle the increased traffic, he said, adding that the developer has promised to make road improvements.

“Will the town be able to handle that traffic impact,” he said. “We have our own traffic consultant who is reviewing everything their traffic consultant is preparing. We also have the state Department of Transportation reviewing a lot of the work.”

Faro said Gov. Chris Sununu and state leaders are helping to lure a corporate headquarters to the site.

“He is in a unique spot geographically right on the border,” said Taylor Caswell, commissioner of the state Department of Business and Economic Affairs.

Site work continues as buildings go up in the background at Tuscan at the former site of Rockingham Park. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Caswell, whose department talks to out-of-state companies expressing interest in moving to New Hampshire, said Faro could draw interest from Massachusetts firms.

He put the odds at “pretty good” for Faro.

“These mixed-use properties are really sort of favored by a growing number of companies, so I think he’s got a lot of things going for him on that spot,” Caswell said.

Faro said he paid $50 million for the 170 acres and sold off 50 acres to other developers for an undisclosed amount.

On Wednesday, workers installed fieldstone on the exterior of Tuscan-style villas that will sell for $489,000 and up.

A proposed 154-room hotel, to be managed either by Marriott or Hilton, will cost an estimated $40 million and open in 2021.

The hotel will be built around a lake containing bass.

Other plans, not yet finalized by contract, include a movie theater with a “high-end craft beer concept.”

Domingo Souza places fieldstone on the exterior of Tuscan-style villas that will sell for $489,000 and up at Tuscan Village in Salem. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Faro will build a Tuscan Market and Tuscan Village on the site.

He wouldn’t confirm whether Scandinavian home furnishings giant IKEA is interested in the site. 

The Union Leader reported in January that plans filed with the town showed diagrams that resembled the store’s exterior.

Other items include an atrium-style wine bar with an adjoining bocce court and outdoor seating.

Policy Brook, an underground brook recently discovered, will be incorporated into the project’s green space.

The project will spend tens of millions of dollars on site work and infrastructure, including moving a half million yards of dirt.

“Everything is scheduled to open by the end of 2021,” Faro said.

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