Downtown: Love Building now open on South Main Street
Steve Duprey wants you to love your neighbor. And you’ll be reminded of that as you shop for books, coffee or legal advice in his newest building on South Main Street.
Duprey’s Love Building, named for an engraving in the threshold that reads “Love Your Neighbor,” is now open. It’s home to Gibson’s Bookstore, a True Brew Barista cafe, Orr & Reno law firm and other offices.
While construction is not yet done on the second floor of the new building, Orr & Reno opened in its new offices last week and Gibson’s opened its expanded bookstore two weeks ago. This week, True Brew Barista is expected to open its bookstore cafe inside the new Gibson’s.
“It doesn’t quite feel like it’s done, but obviously it’s very gratifying,” Duprey said. “This is another example of a
very successful public-private partnership with the city.”
The Love Building stands next to the Smile Building on South Main Street, which Duprey opened in 2011.
Gibson’s Bookstore owner Michael Herrmann said his expanded store has already brought new activity to South Main Street in its first two weeks.
“It’s like the bookstore I always wanted to put up,” he said, standing in his new space Friday morning.
Standing in the center of the spacious new bookstore, Herrmann pointed to tiered shelves, adjusted so no two signs overlap as customers scan for the type of book they’d like to browse.
Gibson’s moved a few blocks south to a much larger location, and increased its book inventory by about 25 percent. Herrmann also acquired the inventory of Imagination Village, which closed on North Main Street. Laura Miller, the former owner of Imagination Village, now runs the children’s section at Gibson’s.
The new Gibson’s space occupies the first floor of the building, wrapping around the cafe space and main lobby. It has desks and chairs scattered throughout the store for quiet reading, and book carts in the back can wheel away to hold 100 chairs for events with visiting authors. The children’s section includes games, toys and puzzles and features a colorful mural by Maine artist Susan York with scenes of Concord and cats from popular children’s books.
The bookstore will be open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Sundays. The expanded hours are part of Herrmann’s investment in downtown.
“It’s our statement about what we think Concord can be for the future,” Herrmann said.
True Brew Barista, which will run a bookstore cafe in addition to its shop in Bicentennial Square, will open inside the Love Building sometime this week.
“It should be ready soon,” said owner Stephanie Zinser.
Orr & Reno has moved from North Main Street to the third and fourth floors of the Love Building, and BittWare, a technology company that was previously located above Bread & Chocolate on South Main Street, has moved into the lower level.
Though the second floor of the Love Building is still under construction, Duprey said the AARP state headquarters and Royal Bank of Canada offices will open there soon. He still has 2,900 square feet available for rent in the 70,000 square foot building.
Duprey is also putting the finishing touches on a historical display in the lobby to highlight the site’s history; he demolished the former New Hampshire Bindery building to build the Love Building.
He said the lobby includes original brick and a window from the old building. It will also feature historical displays about the site’s industrial past, including bandsaws from its time as John A. White’s Concord Machine Works.
Duprey said he understands that preservations would rather have seen the building left intact, but “I will have it a guess that more people will know what happened in that location” once the lobby displays are complete.
“And we’re looking forward to the next challenging project,” Duprey said last week.
Now that the Love Building is complete, the next redevelopment project on South Main Street will likely be across the street, at the state Department of Employment Security headquarters. Duprey has said he was one of the developers to submit a proposal for the site – his plan includes retail, housing and a new city library – but the city council has not yet announced a preferred developer for the project.
Ceremony waits for spring
Construction on Main Street is delayed, so the city’s groundbreaking ceremony is also on hold.
Louis Karno & Co., the firm the city hired for public relations during the Main Street redesign project, had planned an Oct. 4 groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of the $10.35 million construction project.
But city officials announced this month that they had only received one bid for construction, for twice the budget amount. That bid was rejected, and the city plans to hire a new contractor by the end of the year and begin construction in the spring.
Louis Karno & Co. wrote in an email announcement last week that the groundbreaking ceremony will also be held in the spring. A new date has not yet been set.
Capital for sale
The North Main Street building that was previously home to Capital Offset is for sale.
The printing company merged with Puritan Press in Hollis last year, and is now known as Puritan Capital, said partner Jay Stewart.
Stewart, the former president of Capital Offset, said the company “took the best machinery out of both companies” and moved to Hollis.
“Every person that was working at Capital during the merger was offered a position down here,” he said.
The former Capital Offsett building, at 181 N. Main St., is listed for sale with an asking price of $495,000.