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Bass Pro Shops plans November opening at I-93's Exit 10 in Hooksett

Special to the Union Leader

April 30. 2013 10:20PM
An artist's rendering shows the proposed Bass Pro Shop on Route 3A in Hooksett. Officials plan to add a facade to the former Lowe's store. (Courtesy)

HOOKSETT - Bass Pro Shops should open in November, provided concerns about groundwater are addressed and variances granted.

Hooksett officials continue to work with representatives from Bass Pro Shops to turn the currently vacant Lowe's store on Route 3A into a 149,000-square-foot Outdoor World Sportsman's Center. The store could create as many as 300 jobs.

Town Planner Joanne Duffy said there are restrictions on what can locate in a groundwater conservation district.

Variances are needed for store signs and to allow a boat repair facility on the premises.

"Appropriate precautions need to be in place" for the planned repair facility, said Duffy.

Officials from Bass Pro are scheduled to meet with the Hooksett Zoning Board May 14.

Hooksett Town Administrator Dean Shankle Jr. said Bass Pro has been in contact with the town about the Lowe's space for about a year.

"They've been looking at this area for a while," Shankle said.

Bass Pro first approached the town in 2009 about finding land for a new store.

"But that was at the time of the recession and everything just came to a stop" Shankle said.

The inquiry came just after a rival outdoor store chain, Cabela's, considered building a store on land near Exit 11.

Shankle said Bass Pro learned of the vacant Lowe's store and contacted the town last May and has since presented plans and drawings to the town planner's office.
Exit 10 location

The stores cater to outdoor enthusiasts, including fisherman, hunters and campers. Company spokesperson Katie Mitchell said most of the traffic heading up to the Lakes Region and White Mountains passes by Exit 10 of Interstate 93.

"Almost 10 million people live within a 100-mile radius," said Mitchell.

She said Bass Pro Shops are filled with items that reflect the area they are located in.

"No two are exactly the same," said Mitchell. "They are all patterned after the uniqueness of a particular area."

The stores host seasonal events and also have classes and programs to introduce people to outdoor activities.

Shankle said Duffy and Public Works Director Leo Lessard traveled to Bass Pro's 140,000-square-foot Foxborough, Mass., location at Patriot Place to get an idea of what could be built in Hooksett.

That location contains a Blue Fin Lounge restaurant, but Duffy said no food service is planned for the Hooksett location at this time.

Bass Pro grew from a single bait-and-tackle shop located in a Missouri liquor store in the mid-1970s to a chain of more than 70 retail stores.

At least another dozen stores are being planned nationwide.

No cost to town

Shankle pointed out there is no cost to the town in luring Bass Pro to Hooksett, since all the investment in the area around Exit 10 came years ago.

"We had a TIF there," said Shankle, referring to the Tax Increment Funding District the town of Hooksett created in 2003, which was recently paid off. "And now since they did that 10 years ago ... the town is benefitting from it."

There is also a sewer expansion project in the works to extend service to Walmart and the future Bass Pro that is being paid for by the users.

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