December 1, 2010

Planners have High Hopes for abandoned Allen buildings

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- Redevelopment of the lots vacated by the Allen cousins car dealerships on Route 28 could begin by the spring, according to town staff, in what could mark a new wave of commercial interest for the area.
In August, Jim Scott of Cape Neddick, Maine, purchased the former Allen Motors lot at 19 Manchester Road for $1.3 million through Boomer Wolf LLC, according to an online assessors database. Dave Allen, owner of
 the former Dave Allen Sales and Service at 17 Manchester Road, said he sold his next-door lot to Scott about two months ago.
And now Scott is hoping to rehab the two 4.6-acre lots into 49,000 square feet of retail space, according to a proposal going before the Planning Board for preliminary design review tonight.
According to the plans, Scott would renovate the old Allen Motors building into 19,000 square feet of retail space and tear down the old Dave Allen
 building to make room for three new buildings. 
The larger of those three buildings, at 16,000 square feet, has already been committed to a Goodwill store, according to Derry Planning Director George Sioras. 
The other buildings have yet to be spoken for, Sioras said, but there have been talks of putting a restaurant in one of the spaces. 
The plans incorporate 245 parking spaces and pedestrian walkways between the buildings and nearby sidewalks. Further, Sioras said, Scott has said he wants to transform the larger Allen Motors building into a New England barn-type exterior, with the other buildings following similar architectural styles. And Sioras said those design aspects fit in well with what the Planning Board has highlighted as its vision for the Route 28 area. 
“We want to have connectivity between parking areas to walk to different buildings and have a safe crossing path,” he said. “We want to get away from the generic, box store type of retailers and this developer has really worked with us and should be commended for that.” 
Sioras said Scott will likely return to the Planning Board for a final site plan review in January or February. And if the approval process goes smoothly, Sioras said construction is expected in the spring. 
Widening of Route 28 near the project site is also set to begin this spring. 
And coupled with plans for a nearby Walmart store awaiting final approval, Sioras said redevelopment of the old Allen dealerships could mean big things for Route 28. 
“We’re very excited because it’s a combination of everything good happening at once,” Sioras said. “The dealerships are empty right now, and the town wants to see new business. We have had other retailers sitting back saying they’re going to wait and see what happens. Now we’re able to say finally that something is going to happen.”

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