Development across from Steeplegate Mall approved by Concord Planning Board
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Mike D’Amante has had his eye on a parcel of land across from Steeplegate Mall since 2008, when his plans for another large shopping center on Loudon Road came crashing down with the economy.
“It’s one of the premier retail sites left in town,” D’Amante said.
This week, he finally got approval from the city’s planning board for a nearly 31,000-square-foot development with space for both retail and a restaurant. Construction is expected to start in the spring. When completed, it will be a scaled-back version of his original 125,000-square-foot plan – but to the developer, it’s a successful rebound.
“Ever since 2008, when we all know the Great Recession started, development has been extremely difficult pretty much on every front, from tenants wanting to take the risk of opening new stores and banks being willing to finance ground-up projects. . . . It’s been difficult,” D’Amante said. “So any new development we can do . . . is a victory.”
D’Amante estimated the construction would cost about $7 million. He won’t be able to announce which businesses would set up shop in the new development until later in the year. But he should have space for six to eight smaller retailers. “It’s not overimposing or a huge box-type development,” he said.
“I think it will add a lot of space for smaller tenants that aren’t here right now,” he said.
While Steeplegate Mall struggles to fill vacant storefronts across the street, Carlos Baia, deputy city manager for development, said the new shopping center reflects promising growth in the Concord economy.
“It’s not a large development by its very nature, but it’s probably the largest on Loudon Road in the past several years,” Baia said.
Steve Henninger of the city’s planning division remembers a very different Loudon Road from when he started working for the city in the late 1980s.
“When I came here, there was a warehouse building where Shaw’s is,” Henninger said. “There were a half a dozen other homes, and it was a two-lane road.”
Now, he’s working on plans for this new development on Loudon Road. The shopping center will be across from Steeplegate Mall and close to large retailers such as Target and Home Depot, which have cropped up in Concord alongside other national stores on Loudon Road in past decades.
“It’s more economic activity, and it’s more tax base,” he said.
The developers would also reroute Old Loudon Road to the intersection of Loudon Road and D’Amante Drive, creating a fourth leg at that stoplight.
“This would take out a very difficult and problematic intersection and make it more functional,” Henninger said.
The new intersection will be a safer one for drivers trying to navigate one of Concord’s busiest streets, Baia said. The change will be made at no cost to the city and will be unaffected by the construction project to shrink another portion of Loudon Road from four lanes to three.
“It’s a really tight angle,” he said. “That’s a really dangerous area.”
Now, D’Amante will finalize lease agreements with interested tenants. He said the shopping center will add to the other businesses on the Loudon Road corridor.
“It’s another puzzle piece falling into place,” D’Amante said. “It’s one of the remaining vacant parcels and zoned parcels in the gateway that’s right by the mall.”
The project’s approximately 5 acres will cost about $1.5 million. The city and state governments own a combined 3.4 acres on this property, which will now be sold to D’Amante and his team. Another parcel of land will be purchased from a local couple who owns two homes near the planned intersection.
New stores could open in the development by the end of the year.
“We’d like to see something that’s vibrant, that has staying power in the community,” Baia said.
(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)