NASHUA — Despite traffic concerns and potential parking woes, nearly 250 new apartments have been approved by city planners for Nashua’s east side — projects that could possibly entice rail activity in the region.
“This is a transformative project,” said Mayor Jim Donchess, adding it could lead to other development, a future tax increment financing district and much needed improvements in an area on the east side that has not been invested in for decades.
While city planners approved the projects, many agreed that traffic in that section of the city needs to be improved.
“I do think these projects are hugely important to the city,” said Gerry Reppucci, planning board member. “I think we have a big problem in that area, and it is our problem — it is not the applicant’s problem.”
Last week, the planning board adopted two separate site plans — one to convert the former Henry Hanger Company of America factory building into an apartment complex and another to construct two large apartment buildings at the former Corriveau-Routhier site on Temple Street.
Combined, the two development projects will bring 248 apartments to the area.
The former Henry Hanger building at 110 East Hollis St. will be transformed into 80 apartments — a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units.
The former Corriveau-Routhier property at 159-161 Temple St. will be used to house two new apartment buildings for a combined total of 168 units consisting of one-bedroom and two-bedroom market rate apartments.
The East Hollis Street project is in close proximity to the city’s Park and Ride site on Crown Street that has been eyed as a future train station; the project will take place within the city’s transit oriented overlay district.
“It is a concept that is being implemented across the country, really,” said Rob Harbeson of Market Square Architects in Portsmouth.
There is a need for housing in Nashua, and some people are looking to relocate to urban centers that are walkable.
“The development will preserve a building that might otherwise lose its reason for being,” Harbeson said of the former Henry Hanger building.
A traffic study of the East Hollis Street project revealed there will be incrementally more traffic in the area, which already has a problematic traffic flow. The biggest impact, according to the study, will be the addition of about 49 traffic trips during a 1-hour period in the afternoon on Bridge Street.
Steve Dookran, city engineer, expressed the need for a cumulative, comprehensive traffic study for the two apartment projects.
Donchess said he is proposing to allocate $15,000 in escrow funds to complete a comprehensive traffic study in that area of Nashua’s east side.