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Development across from Steeplegate Mall approved by Concord Planning Board

  • The latest group of 24 Medal of Honor recipients will include 19 Hispanic, Jewish and African-American veterans who were overlooked due to their racial or ethnic backgrounds. Army Sgt. Jack Weinstein will receive the medal posthumously for his courageous actions while leading 1st Platoon, Company G, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division in Kumsong, Korea, on Oct. 19, 1951. Illustrates MEDALS (category a), by Scott Wilson © 2014, The Washington Post. Moved Friday, Feb. 21, 2014. (MUST CREDIT: Photo courtesy of the White House)

    The latest group of 24 Medal of Honor recipients will include 19 Hispanic, Jewish and African-American veterans who were overlooked due to their racial or ethnic backgrounds. Army Sgt. Jack Weinstein will receive the medal posthumously for his courageous actions while leading 1st Platoon, Company G, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division in Kumsong, Korea, on Oct. 19, 1951. Illustrates MEDALS (category a), by Scott Wilson © 2014, The Washington Post. Moved Friday, Feb. 21, 2014. (MUST CREDIT: Photo courtesy of the White House)

  • The latest group of 24 Medal of Honor recipients will include 19 Hispanic, Jewish and African-American veterans who were overlooked due to their racial or ethnic backgrounds. Army Sgt. Jack Weinstein will receive the medal posthumously for his courageous actions while leading 1st Platoon, Company G, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division in Kumsong, Korea, on Oct. 19, 1951. Illustrates MEDALS (category a), by Scott Wilson © 2014, The Washington Post. Moved Friday, Feb. 21, 2014. (MUST CREDIT: Photo courtesy of the White House)

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 mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

Build it and they won't come. When the two travel lane Loudon Road gets all bunged up, the cure these engineers will come up with is to reduce it to one lane. You can go East on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. West on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Sunday will be let the best man with the biggest, baddest SUV win! Anyone who wants to get there and return home the same day will have to ride a bicycle.

Just remember what city councilors represent the Heights when it comes time for re-election (Bouchard & Mattson). They did a fine, fine job of non-representation. Great job of listening to your constituents councilors. While we're at it mabye we can heat Loudon Road's sidewalks or at least for this new development. :)

kidding, just kidding. I guess I'll never understand why business owners don't get out there and shovel the sidewalk in front of their businesses just like homeowners have to shovel or plow their homes.

At the time the city council approved the engineer’s proposal to reduce the travel lanes on Loudon road from 4 lanes to 3, they knew the plan for this new development was in the works and that it would further increase the traffic on the heights yet this fact was not addressed at the hearing. The engineer just compared Loudon Road to Manchester street saying they had the same traffic volume and that turning lane was working fine there. Of course the engineers ignored the fact that Manchester Street has only 1 business for every 20 Loudon road, and Loudon Road has 3 apartment developments and 3 other housing developments contributing to the traffic congestion. The council did not approve the bypass on the west side of town to make for a faster commute to Concord Hospital. The mayor said that the city didn't have the money at this time- and the neighborhood was against it. All of a sudden there is money for the changes on Loudon road and since it is the “blue collar “ section of town, it doesn’t matter what the residents and businesses have to say! While there was convincing evidence that the bypass on the west side would reduce the travel time to the hospital, there was no evidence presented for the Loudon road project that documented the types and causes of the accidents or that the turning lane would even reduce the number of accidents. It was stated there were 100 accidents of all types on Loudon road, which handles 20,000 vehicles; a day (the engineers figures), which means the accident rate, was .0002% !!!!! Most cities would envy that number for but I guess that is too high when federal and state dollars are at stake. Keep in mind that there is no assurance that the new turning lane will improve the accident rate but most assuredly increase road rage and commuting times. Politics, you got to love it.

“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 you have all this new development, and its still going to be a 2 lane road. That takes a special kind of stupid.

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