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Downtown

Downtown: Moving onto Main Street

  • Peter Potenza, left, unpacks a box while his wife Kelley runs the dishwasher as they settle into their new kitchen while moving into their  apartment at the former Endicott Hotel on the corner of Main and Pleasant streets in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Peter Potenza, left, unpacks a box while his wife Kelley runs the dishwasher as they settle into their new kitchen while moving into their apartment at the former Endicott Hotel on the corner of Main and Pleasant streets in Concord.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Carmella Potenza, 6, and Francesca, 5, line up their toys for a race while taking a break from unpacking their playroom in their new apartment at the former Endicott Hotel on Sunday night, August 18, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Carmella Potenza, 6, and Francesca, 5, line up their toys for a race while taking a break from unpacking their playroom in their new apartment at the former Endicott Hotel on Sunday night, August 18, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Peter Potenza, left, unpacks a box while his wife Kelley runs the dishwasher as they settle into their new kitchen while moving into their  apartment at the former Endicott Hotel on the corner of Main and Pleasant streets in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Carmella Potenza, 6, and Francesca, 5, line up their toys for a race while taking a break from unpacking their playroom in their new apartment at the former Endicott Hotel on Sunday night, August 18, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

When Peter Potenza moved to Concord, he bought a three-bedroom house with a yard in East Concord. But he and his wife, Kelley, grew tired of caring for the yard, driving 15 minutes to get downtown and paying property taxes and large utility bills.

So they sold their home this summer, and moved into the newly renovated Endicott Hotel with their two young daughters. The family now has a three-bedroom apartment in the historic building on South Main Street.

CATCH Neighborhood Housing began renovating the building last year to open 24 market-rate apartments.

Though CATCH focuses on affordable housing development, the new apartments don’t have income restrictions. The nonprofit opened them to generate a profit for its other work.

New tenants began moving in Aug. 1. About half of the 24 apartments have been rented, said CATCH Director of Real Estate Mike Reed. Construction is not finished on the outside of the building, but most of the apartments are ready for residents.

“To have half rented in the first month is really good,” Reed said. “So yes, we’re excited.”

Jeffery Maxwell and Marcus Hayman moved into their apartment on the third floor last week. When they relocated from Florida to Manchester in January, Maxwell found out about the new Endicott apartments by searching the internet for a place to live. He knew right away that he wanted to live there, so he and Hayman rented an apartment in Manchester until the renovations were complete.

“The important thing for us was to be able to walk places,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell said he also enjoys the view of downtown – his apartment overlooks Main Street and has one of the building’s turret windows.

The one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments vary in rent from $975 to $1,350 per month. Those rates include heat, air conditioning and water. Coin-operated laundry and a workout room are in the building.

Potenza said smaller utility bills is one perk of downsizing to an apartment.

“We’ve really hit the easy button,” said Potenza, who owns

Nadeau’s Subs on South Main Street.

He can walk to work, the grocery store and downtown restaurants. His daughters, ages 5 and 6, take turns hitting the elevator button.

“The kids think it’s great,” Potenza said.

Keith Leach, who now lives in Franklin, toured the new apartments for the first time last week. He is going back this week and hopes to choose an apartment and sign a lease. When he heard about the renovations at the old Endicott Hotel, he said, he liked the idea of living on Main Street.

“So that was one of the bigger attractions, was being walking distance to things in Concord,” he said.

The only downside, Leach said, might be parking. Tenants do not get guaranteed parking spaces, and downtown parking is metered between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.

Maxwell said he doesn’t mind the lack of parking because he can easily find a space in the Capital Commons parking garage. He is looking forward to only needing his car when he drives to work as an air traffic controller at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. Hayman will not need to drive; he just got a job working at the Concord Food Co-op.

On the building’s ground floor, CATCH is leasing space to commercial tenants. Live Juice will soon open and begin selling raw juice, smoothies and chopped salad. Northeast Credit Union will open next door. Reed said he is still looking for tenants for second-floor office space in the building, and commercial space on the Pleasant Street Extension, in the former Green Martini storefront.

Reed said construction will end soon; the plywood on the ground floor should be replaced with the new facade and windows this week.

Almost open for business

Gibson’s Bookstore and True Brew Barista have started moving into the newest building on South Main Street.

The new bookstore will be open by the beginning of September, owner Michael Herrmann said. Stephanie Zinser said she is aiming to open the True Brew bookstore cafe at the same time.

This week, Herrmann will close the children’s section at Gibson’s and the North Main Street storefront of Imagination Village. He acquired the assets of the Imagination Village and will integrate it into the children’s section of his new bookstore.

Over the weekend, Herrmann said, he will close Gibson’s to complete the move. But that doesn’t mean Gibson’s will stop selling books – customers can call, email and order online.

“Even though we’re going to be closed so people can’t browse, we’re going to be open so people can buy books,” Herrmann said. “We’re open in every way but one.”

The new building, on the former site of the New Hampshire Bindery, will be a second location for True Brew Barista. Zinser and her husband, Rob, will keep their first shop in Bicentennial Square, but they are also subleasing space from Herrmann to offer a cafe inside the new Gibson’s Bookstore.

The new cafe will feature crepes as a special treat, Zinser said. She is also planning special coffee tastings to celebrate the opening – “some fancy stuff for my roaster,” she said.

Steve Duprey, the building’s owner, said Gibson’s and True Brew will be the first tenants to move in. Bittware, a technology company now located above Bread & Chocolate on South Main Street, will also soon move into the lower level.

Signs have gone up on the outside of the building. The area in front of the building is paved with blacktop – but that’s only temporary, Duprey said. A sidewalk and other design features will be installed during the upcoming reconstruction of Main Street.

“Instead of me going ahead and putting in the concrete sidewalks . . . and putting in light poles and trees, the city’s agreed that it would be wiser for me to just put blacktop there and take the money that we would otherwise spend on improvement, to give that to the city toward the Main Street project,” he said.

Duprey said the Orr & Reno law firm is expected to move into the building’s top two floors during the first week of September. Other tenants will move in about the same time, and he still has a small amount of office space available for lease.

Streetlight survey

The results are in: Sample streetlights installed on Main Street last month received good reviews.

“Overall, the results of some 32 responses to the survey were quite positive,” according to a post on the city’s Main Street project website. “Most thought the white light was just right and coverage was good.”

Two streetlights were installed in July to sample a custom light quality for Concord’s Main Street redesign project.

Some residents commented on the base of the streetlight. But the post wasn’t the final product of what will appear on the redesigned Main Street, according to the website update.

“Additional comments inquired whether banner and flag brackets would be included on the proposed fixtures the answer is yes,” the update stated.

Pre-construction work

Fall is approaching, and so is construction on Main Street.

Beginning tomorrow, Liberty Utilities will work on reconstructing gas utilities to prepare for the city’s Main Street redesign project.

The work will continue through Sept. 10, said City Engineer Ed Roberge.

“Minor traffic delays should be expected . . . during typical hours of operation, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.,” Roberge wrote in an email. “Temporary sidewalk closures will be limited to the immediate work area and will be as brief as possible.”

The work will affect traffic flow and some parking spaces on Main Street, Fayette Street, Warren Street and School Street.

The city’s engineering department will notify business owners in the affected areas, Roberge said.

Construction is expected to begin in late September or early October on other parts of the Main Street redesign project. It will be done primarily overnight, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 7 a.m., Roberge said.

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

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