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Plan would transform Bedford's old Wayfarer Inn site into apartments, restaurants, stores

Union Leader Correspondent

November 05. 2013 9:29PM
The former Wayfarer Inn on South River Road in Bedford has been vacant and neglected for about five years. (SUSAN CLARK PHOTO)

BEDFORD - The former Wayfarer Inn property on South River Road is slated for transformation into an apartment complex, restaurants and retail stores.

The plan is to divide the property at 121 South River Road - next to Macy's and the Bedford Mall - into two parcels. One parcel will contain a four-story, 72-unit apartment building, a 5,872-square-foot sit-down restaurant and a 4,000-square-foot fast food restaurant. The other parcel will be used for a 2,900-square-foot bank and two connecting stores of 40,000 square feet and 11,000 square feet.

The Planning Board is scheduled to review the conceptual plan Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. in the Bedford Meeting Room at 10 Meetinghouse Road.

Engineers TFMoran of Bedford submitted the plan to the town's planning department on Oct. 3 on behalf of property owner Jiten Management of Brockton, Mass. Jeff Kevan, of TFMoran, said no tenants have been finalized.

The initial plan was to raze the John Goffe's mill - a structure incorporated into the inn - but because of its historic value, the building will remain, Kevan said.

The property dates back to 1744, when John Goffe, one of the earliest settlers of Bedford, built and operated a series of mills along Bowman Brook. The John Goffe's mill was reconstructed by a descendent, George Woodbury, in 1939. Woodbury rehabilitated the old iron turbine originally installed in 1845 and produced lumber, flour, feed, toys and furniture. The Wayfarer Inn opened in 1962 and closed about five years ago.

"We're saving the mill building and leaving the dams. They will remain intact," Kevan said. Bowman Brook, which bisects the property, has two dams. A dilapidated footbridge from the former hotel to the convention center and a section of hotel span the brook. The property has a 7-foot culvert that is now crumbling.

A path and a walkway will be incorporated into the plan to feature the brook. The plan will take wetlands into consideration, with use of required 50-foot setbacks and retaining walls.

Kevan met with some resistance at the Conservation Commission's Oct. 22 meeting regarding preserving the natural features of the property and wetland setbacks.

Planning Board liaison Hal Newberry said most of the proposed buildings appear to turn their backs on the brook, and asked if the developer would consider featuring the water. Kevan indicated that the apartments could face the brook, but the plans are still conceptual.

The applicant is also expected to request some setback and wetland, pavement, parking and off-site sign waivers.

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