UPDATE: Although Encore Retail representatives told the Bedford Planning Board this week that Surf restaurant and Wahlburgers restaurant were included in the Market and Main project, Michael Buckley of Surf said Wednesday that he has no intention of opening a restaurant at the site.
In addition, Wahlburgers said in an email to the New Hampshire Union Leader that it does not have any signed lease agreement for space in New Hampshire.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
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BEDFORD — Developers for the new Market and Main complex have unveiled more details about future tenants, including Surf restaurant, Ulta Beauty and Wahlburgers.
During a conceptual design meeting with the planning board this week, Encore Retail LLC announced the names of the tenants that have, to date, either signed letters of intent or lease contracts.
Those tenants include: US Cellular, OshKosh B’gosh and Carter’s, Surf restaurant, Bedford Spa, Ulta Beauty, Wahlburgers restaurant, Sport Clips, Athleta, Charles Schwab, Pressed Cafe, European Wax and Regal cinema. Aloft Hotel by Marriott is also interested in the $120 million project. Trader Joe’s and The Friendly Toast have already been constructed at the site.
Encore is hoping to amend its previously approved site plan to potentially add 200 residential apartments to the site on South River Road.
“I am representing to you tonight, that without having the apartments, you are not going to have a cinema,” attorney John Cronin, on behalf of Encore, told town planners, with Cronin acknowledging that there is a provision in the cinema lease that is tied to the newly proposed apartments.
When asked whether the developer would back out of the project if the apartments were not approved, Terry Robinson of Encore said no, adding that the developer is doing everything it can to deliver the project.
Robinson did admit, however, that if the apartments are not permitted, he is not sure what comes next in the process.
Charlie Fairman, planning board member, said he is OK with the developer sitting on the project while it forms an alternative plan that includes fewer apartments with four-story buildings instead of five-story buildings, as well as the addition of workforce housing.
Ted Chryssicas, who is assisting with the leasing for the project, said that without the housing component, the property may “sit empty and it is going to be a blighted sight — I am not threatening — it is sitting empty now.”
Concerns were raised by planning board members about the lack of an anchor tenant; REI was originally planning a store at the site, but ultimately backed out of the project.
Randy Hawkins, planning board member, said Market and Main was designed to be a destination location, but instead there are boutique shops without any confirmed anchor store.
“I am concerned about the permanent nature of this plan,” Hawkins said, contending the new conceptual plan feels more like a housing development.
“Government really shouldn’t be designing what goes in there in terms of tenants,” replied Cronin.
Chryssicas said the foundation of retail has shifted to smaller footprints, maintaining Regal cinema would serve as an anchor, as well as the nearby Whole Foods Market. Furthermore, he said, the restaurants such as Surf, Wahlburgers and Pressed Cafe will also drive traffic to the site.
“This is a $120 million development that is going to be very nice,” said Robinson, describing it as a first-class complex. Right now, the apartments are the only proposal that will make the project financially feasible, he said.
Harold Newberry, planning board member, said there are some Bedford residents who are dead set against the apartments and would rather see the site sit vacant than have housing constructed there.
Since the town has zoning regulations in place that do not permit housing in the performance zone where Market and Main is located, with the exception of workforce housing, Encore will need to seek a waiver if a formal site plan is submitted. The town also requires that 25% of new apartment units be classified as workforce housing, although no workforce housing is included in the conceptual plans.