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State may be close to selecting developer for I-93 rest areas in Hooksett

The public may get its first look this week at plans to redevelop the rest areas on Interstate 93 in Hooksett into full-service plazas.

Three times in recent years, state officials have sought a private developer to transform the rest areas at Exit 11, which now offer restrooms, vending machines and a liquor store on either side of the highway.

Under the latest bid specifications, issued by the state last summer, the new rest areas would include fuel, a sit-down dining option, Wi-Fi, a convenience store and expanded liquor stores. The winning bidder would sign a 35-year lease and undertake the project, while the state would continue to own the land.

A short list of three developers was announced last year: the New Hampshire-headquartered Common Man family of restaurants, Maryland-based Host International and Chicago-based First Equity Group.

The project may go before the state’s Long-Range Capital Planning and Utilization Committee when it meets tomorrow, then head to the Executive Council for approval.

But officials from the Department of Transportation weren’t saying last week if one of the companies has been selected for the project.

“Per the attorney general’s office, we cannot say anything until this goes before the long-range committee,” said DOT spokesman Bill Boynton.

Burger King and Pizza Hut? Is this who/what we want "welcoming" touists to our State? Compared to every other State around, our rest areas and welcome centers are at the bottom of the heap in terms of cleanliness and services available. The State recruits "volunteers" too often to staff them, too cheap and penny pinching to actually pay someone to staff these places. The focus is all about selling booze and lottery tickets. Some Family-friendly welcome. I was hoping we'd be different than the mall development type of approach to this, while not being a bit surprised that this is the approach our leaders are looking at.

I drive to NYC 4-5 times a year. I'm usually ready for a rest right on the NY/CT border. There are 3 "on/offs" on this section of I95. They are exactly the same as NH is proposing, sans booze. Fuel, bathrooms, coffee, a quick snack is all you need. The booze is an added plus. The "mall development type of approach" to this is being considered for one reason. It works.

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