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Blue clay soil slows construction at Bedford's Market & Main


Union Leader Correspondent

May 25. 2018 9:15PM
Blue clay soil has been discovered at the Market and Main development site, prompting the completion of a dewatering process before work can resume. (Kimberly Houghton /Union Leader Correspondent)

Encore Retail LLC. has slowly revealed more details about the potential tenants that will be occupying Market and Main in Bedford, a 355,708 square feet mixed-use complex now under construction. (Kimberly Houghton)

BEDFORD — Construction for the Market and Main development at the old Macy’s site has been delayed slightly as crews have discovered blue clay, a type of expansive soil.

“It looks like things have come to a stop out there, but they really haven’t,” explained Becky Hebert, planning director for Bedford.

Blue clay is a water-rich soil, or a glacial material associated with the river, according to Hebert.

“The Market and Main project hit a blue clay,” she said. “They have been dewatering on-site right now. This blue clay is common in areas of Bedford along South River Road.”

Blue clay was discovered during other development projects in the vicinity of the old Macy’s, including the former Bedford mall and the former Wayfarer site, said Town Manager Rick Sawyer.

“It is well known to all of the contractors in the area,” Sawyer said of the blue clay.

Town planners previously granted conditional approval for the Market and Main project, a large mixed-use development at 125 South River Rd.

Encore Retail LLC has slowly revealed more details about the potential tenants that will be occupying the 355,708-square-foot complex that is expected to include a cinema, hotel, medical office, restaurants, retail space and parking garage.

“They are dewatering, and when they get through with that process, you will see more action on the site,” Hebert said this week.

According to town officials, the blue clay is a unique geological feature in the area, explaining that it was likely not a surprise when construction crews discovered it.

To date, Pressed Cafe, Charles Schwab, Trader Joe’s, The Friendly Toast and Red Heat Tavern have all announced that they have signed leases for the new Market and Main development. Other businesses such as Athleta, REI, Cycle Bar, European Wax and MidiCi have been working on finalizing leases, representatives with Encore Enterprises said recently.

The building foundation for The Friendly Toast is already in place, according to Hebert.

As part of the construction process, the access drive to Whole Foods Market in the abutting parcel has been temporarily relocated, she said.

“That is a temporary sweep in the access drive,” said Hebert, adding the access road will eventually return to its original layout.

Developers say a lot of activity has been taking place behind the scenes to finalize leases for Market and Main; a groundbreaking date is expected to be announced soon. The project, once completed, could create more than $1 million a year in tax revenue, developers said earlier.

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