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New plans for former Lowe's location in Manchester call for apartments, restaurants and store

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 17. 2018 12:56PM
The former Lowe's at 707 Huse Road in Manchester is now Center View Plaza, home to Chunky's Cinema Pub and Cowabunga's. If approved by city planners, a Planet Fitness would move in between those two businesses, with a Tucker's family restaurant next to Cowabunga's. (DAVE LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — Plans to redevelop a former Lowe’s have changed again, with the addition of up to 30 residential apartments, two more restaurants and a new tenant to fill a large vacancy in the main building on the site just south of the Mall of New Hampshire.

The revised plans are scheduled to go before the city planning board during a public meeting Thursday, when developers will also present the findings of a parking and traffic analysis conducted for a conditional-use permit that also needs city approval.

“I think it’s a good mix of uses for the site that allows for the different uses to be compatible with one another,” said Christopher Rice, project manager for TFMoran Inc. of Bedford.

Rice will present the plans to the board on behalf of the property’s ownership group. The former Lowe’s at 707 Huse Road is now Center View Plaza and is currently home to Chunky’s Cinema Pub and Cowabunga’s indoor children’s play area.

If approved, a Planet Fitness would take over more than 22,000 square feet previously approved for retail use on the south side of the main building, between Chunky’s and Cowabunga’s. Tucker’s, a New Hampshire-based breakfast and lunch family restaurant, has also signed on for 4,500 square feet next to Cowabunga’s.

Hale Cole-Tucker runs the small but growing Tucker’s chain with his wife, Erica. He said they hope to open the Manchester location — the fifth Tucker’s — in the fall.

“I think it’s great,” Cole-Tucker said Monday. “The creation of these kind of entertainment-type plazas is fantastic because it generates more foot traffic than your standard retail plaza where there’s one restaurant anchoring and a bunch of smaller retail. I think it’s the way that these retail centers are going now.”

The original plans for Center View Plaza included a 6,000-square-foot, one-story building for a main restaurant in the southwest corner of the parking lot.

The revised plans take the same space, but call for a four-story building with space on the first floor for a burger-type restaurant and a “fast-food” pizza operation with limited seating. The first floor would also include a lobby and office/management space for residential units, which would be built on the three floors above.

“The footprint of the building basically stayed the same,” Rice said. “It’s just the building got taller.”

Although approval of the revisions would just about fill the space of the Lowe’s, which closed in 2011, it would create another vacancy if Planet Fitness moves from its current spot just across Huse Road. There are also parking and traffic concerns.

“Although we don’t meet the city requirement for parking, the shared parking analysis that we performed shows that we have excess parking on site,” Rice said.

Cole-Tucker said the Center View location is similar to another spot Tucker’s has found in Merrimack.

“They laid out the vision for the plaza and it sounded great to us,” Cole-Tucker said. “It sounded a lot like the place that we’re going to open in Merrimack — designed for high foot traffic and entertainment-based. That’s really what we were looking for.”

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