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Opinion

July 22. 2014 7:33PM

About 150 acres planned for development in Merrimack

MERRIMACK — A major development project is being proposed in Merrimack that would convert nearly 150 acres of land into 240 apartments and significant retail and industrial space.

“This is the largest mixed-used development we have seen come through town in quite a while,” said Tim Thompson, community development director.

The John J. Flatley Company, which recently constructed the Tara Heights apartment complex in Nashua, is proposing a nearly identical project on five parcels near 707 Daniel Webster Highway.

Preliminary plans have been filed at Merrimack Town Hall, as the developer prepares to seek a conditional use permit for future construction at the site, which is adjacent to the St. Gobain Corp. facility.

Plans include 120,000 square feet of high-bay industrial space, a village-setting commercial and retail development, a separate 200,000 square feet retail parcel and five residential buildings to accommodate 240 one and two bedroom garden-style rental apartments, a pool, tennis courts and clubhouse.

“It has been an evolving trend in the planning profession to focus on mixed-use development,” said Thompson, explaining local zoning allows for this type of construction. “I think that mixed-use has always been the town’s vision for that area of Merrimack.”

Thompson admits that the Flatley Company is still in the very early stages of the planning process, and that multiple site plans and numerous meetings and approvals will still be necessary for the large project to come to fruition.

The proposed apartments -- if authorized -- will be configured around an existing stream and the former fish hatchery site.

“The owner intends to pursue development of community space in the vicinity of the former hatchery for the benefit of not only residents of the planned multi-family housing complex, but also the two proposed retail parcels and the public,” says a project narrative written by Steven Keach of Nordstrom Associates, adding open space with passive recreation will be encouraged.

The extensive project, which will be located on the east side of Daniel Webster Highway just south of Performance Center Drive, includes a fiscal impact analysis study, community impact assessment study and a traffic impact and access study. If approved, the development will be completed in phases over two to four years.

“At full build-out, all phases of this proposal are anticipated to generate an estimated $1,191,000 in municipal tax revenue, resulting in a positive net fiscal impact of approximately $700,000 on an annual basis,” states the application.

The Merrimack Planning Board was originally expected to review the application for a conditional use permit on Tuesday, but the developer has requested that the project instead be considered during a meeting on Aug. 5

While initial plans also considered a 100-room hotel, the newest plans now on file have been scaled back slightly and no longer include the hotel construction, according to Thompson.

“No tenants, at this point, have come forward this early in the process,” Thompson said of the proposed industrial, retail and commercial space.

Next month, local planning officials will also be reviewing a separate, smaller mixed-use development project called Edgebrook Heights, which entails retail, office, multi-family residential and assisted living space at four parcels along Daniel Webster Highway. Those applicants are Peter Nash and Wigston Properties.

khoughton@newstote.com




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