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Proposed Loudon Road shopping center is ‘scaled-down’ version of 2008 plan

A new retail center could be coming to Loudon Road, as the city looks to complete a development plan that’s been stalled since 2008.

The 31,000-square-foot project developed by members of the D’Amante family would include retail and restaurant space, said Deputy City Manager for Development Carlos Baia.

The city and state governments own a combined 3.4 acres across from Steeplegate Mall, which they first sought to sell five years ago. A proposed 125,000-square-foot development went before the Concord City Council and the state Executive Council in 2008.

But plans fell through when the real estate market collapsed later that year, Baia said.

While the initial project would have included private land, Baia said the new, smaller proposal will fit on the state and city properties.

“They’ve come back with a much more scaled-down proposal, which still has a lot of positives to it,” he said.

Those positives include the relocation of Old Loudon Road, to make it perpendicular to the intersection of Loudon Road and D’Amante Drive, Baia said. The developers would complete the road construction, which Baia said will improve safety at the intersection.

The current intersection of Old Loudon and Loudon Roads would become a dead end, Baia said

The project will bring $3 million to $5 million to the city’s tax base, Baia wrote in a report to the mayor and city council.

Though it won’t expand the city’s tax base as much as the 2008 proposal, Baia said the new project is simpler. The developers planned to purchase 16 acres of private property to the north of Old Loudon Road, known as the Johnson Farm. The project would have spanned both sides of Old Loudon Road and required zoning changes. It also drew criticism from nearby residents, but the Johnson Farm isn’t part of the newer plan, Baia said.

“That is not in the cards at all with this project, so there is no rezoning,” he said.

Residents had concerns in 2008 about disruption on the relatively quiet Old Loudon Road, said Ward 9 City Councilor Candace Bouchard. She said many people expressed concern because they like to walk on Old Loudon Road and enjoy its wildlife.

“So this is much smaller,” Bouchard said. “So far it appears like the parts of Old Loudon Road will still be walkable for people.”

Bouchard said she hasn’t heard from concerned residents about the new plan, but the development process is just beginning.

“I’m just looking forward to seeing the details of the plans,” she said.

Tonight, the city council will vote to enter into a purchase-and-sales agreement with the Siena Bodwell Joint Venture Group. That development team includes the D’Amante Investment Group, Bedford-based Phoenix Realty and Bodwell Realty Investments in Dover.

Ray D’Amante told the Monitor in 2008 that he had “more interest in the site than we have space.” But Baia said the developers’ plans with tenants fell through with the economic downturn later that year.

Baia said he doesn’t know which tenants will occupy the space, though it will likely include a restaurant.

Members of the D’Amante family could not be reached last week.

If the project moves forward, Baia said plans would go before the planning board. Construction would likely start next spring, he said.

The sale also must be approved by the state, which owns most of the public land on the site. The city owns about 0.58 acres of the site. Baia wrote in a report to the city council that the developers will pay $955,000 – the appraised value of the state’s 2.7 acres – and will cover administrative costs for the city. To relocate Old Loudon Road, the developer will purchase nearby private property.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

Legacy Comments14

It is their money - they can do whatever they want - best of luck to them

Instead of a strip mall, how about a strip club?Lol

How could all of these posters forget to recall the plan to reduce Loudon Rd to 3 lanes -

I think it is a great idea, fixes the road and adds to the tax base.

Ha, just what we need more retail space! What about all the vacant space on the Heights that is not being used; Circuit City, the movie theater, the party store?

My sentiments exactly. Just what the heights needs--one more strip mall with more of same generic stores offering "convenience" and "low price" that can only be obtained half a mile down the street. Another chain pharmacy perhaps? It makes little sense to build yet another strip mall given the empty commercial space that exists up and down the street.

Really! What sense does it make for a property owner to develop his own property when he could just rent out some unused property someone else owns?? Why would anyone build their own home when there are always homes to rent? Why would you buy a new car when there are plenty of used cars???

one of the best comments of the week - congrats as usual

Just what the Heights area needs, a strip mall right on Loudon road to further slow up traffic! Trying taking a Right turn on Loudon Road now from any of the residential areas.. forget about it ! We have enough cheap, chain restaurants and retail stores we don't need more traffic jams. But I guess our city councilors who don't live on the Heights don't care, just want more tax revenue so they spend it on more social programs and arts and crafts stuff. Like a multimillion dollar library we don't need among other wasteful projects. The road divider lines need to be painted, and the services need repaving for crying out loud.

Correct Danny, mixed up priorities, egos out of control and pomposity of public servants rules the day. I agree with the arts stuff, it appeals to a minority in the community but they are saying: "oh, join us, you will appreciate this too". The hoitty toitty crowd will stop at nothing to get your money and my money, as much money as they can to promote their sense of sophistication, their reality, their real world view. Must be nice to sit so high on a pedestal. Good post, Danny.

Look at cities that have done that revamping of Main Street all in the hopes that changing the looks of the city will attract more visitors. A few towns like Concord have tried and realized that the businesses downtown are what bring folks to Main Street. The main factor being, do the folks who live here have the income to shop on Main St. If so, why have we seen less folks downtown and more parking spaces available? I see what comes and goes here in the last 25 years. I can almost predict at this point which stores will make it and which ones will not. The arsty folks got mixed up. They want Concord NH to be Concord, MA. one upo to the fact, that what is offered downtown, at what price, parking etc, are what draw folks to Main Street.

This is great. We need something to bring more traffic to the area. I hope it doesn't take away from the millions of people that will be shopping the downtown Concord stores, when that project is finished.

It is doubtful in this Obama economy that Concord really needs or can sustain another strip mall plaza, much less another competing restaurant.

Just what Loudon road needs . . . more commercial development.

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