SALEM — Developer Joe Faro presented up-to-date plans for the 170-acre Tuscan Village development to more than 200 area business owners and local town officials Wednesday morning.
He named some new tenants, such as assisted living company WellPoint, and seafood restaurant The Beach Plum, and said there would be a second medical facility in the same section where a major medical facility — which is due to be named next month — is located.
Faro described the first medical facility as “the world’s most well-known medical institution,” which stepped in shortly after talks with a company he described as a big blue box with a yellow sign — a likely reference to Ikea — fell apart. And he said the second medical facility will be an institution that serves a different age group.
The medical buildings will be located in a northerly section of the development Faro has dubbed “The Rock Office District.”
He said most of the major projects for the South and Central Village sections will be finalized and begin construction in 2019.
“So, things are about to get a little crazy up in here,” Faro said, speaking to a gathering at the Castleton Banquet and Conference Center in Windham.
A 281-unit apartment building by The Hanover Company is going to begin construction in mid-June, he said.
During a presentation of a 3D rendering flyover video, Faro pointed out a few familiar facades that belong to some as-yet unnamed retailers he is in discussions with. As previously reported, one of those is likely L.L. Bean, but no deal has been signed with them yet. Faro also hinted at a burger chain that “may or may not be owned by a movie star,” a possible reference to Wahlburgers.
At the center of the South Village section, the new Tuscan Market will include a “collaborative cooking school” and the Tuscan-themed 162-room “Artisan Hotel” is a soft brand hotel through Hilton Tapestry.
For the outdoor entertainment courtyard, Faro said he has been in talks with events promoter Live Nation and other companies to put together programming, but it can also be used for big community gatherings like a New Hampshire Philharmonic show or a Salem High School hockey awards ceremony.
“You could do the Salem High School graduation here,” Faro said.
An area highlighting the history of the former Rockingham Park racetrack will include a statue of the racehorse Seabiscuit.
Along the southern edge adjacent to South Broadway, Faro said they are converting a section of Policy Brook, which had been failed underground culverts for years, back into an aboveground brook.
“We also want to preserve the special natural goodness that is New Hampshire,” he said.
During a question-and-answer section, Faro said they are working to include electric car charging stations, especially near the professional work areas.
When asked what will happen with the old Tuscan Market and Tuscan Kitchen buildings on Main Street, Faro said Tuscan Market, where much of the Tuscan Brands retail food products are manufactured, will be dedicated entirely to food manufacturing. And he said the old Tuscan Kitchen site will likely be converted into a new restaurant.
“We have not figured out what that restaurant concept is,” Faro said.
He said the development would not only benefit the town with $12 million in annual tax revenue and about 6,000 new jobs, but promised other residual benefits for small businesses in town, and a likely increase in property values in the area.
When recounting the history of his development plans, he said every major developer on the East Coast put in bids for the 120-acre section of Rockingham Park when it went up for sale.
“I’ll give you another little secret. Don’t tell anybody, but I was not the high bidder,” Faro told the seated crowd.
He said he believes his vision to “bring the community together” and collaborate with the town and state has been key in making this development possible.
In addition to economic developments from the main development, Faro also said they are contributing $35 million in off-site infrastructure improvements around the edges of the site.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Salem Town Planner Ross Moldoff. “I think we’re very fortunate to have a guy like Joe Faro who’s local and very committed to high quality.”
The $1 billion development includes 1 million square feet of office space, 800,000 square feet of retail space and 950 residential beds.
Wednesday’s presentation was organized by the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce.