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In Concord, two unusual housing projects targeting different markets are nearing completion

  • GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The former Allied Tanery site in Penacook bulding. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The new condos at the former St. Peter’s Church on North State Street on Saturday, February 22, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Construction is underway on the new condos at the former St. Peter’s Church on North State Street in Concord on Saturday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • The exterior of a three-story apartment complex at the old tannery takes shape in Penacook.

Published: 2/24/2020 3:33:04 PM

Two residential projects in Concord targeting different ends of the housing market are rapidly becoming a reality.

The projects are bringing apartments to the old Allied Leather Co. tannery in Penacook, and creating a “pocket neighborhood” of condominiums in Concord where St. Peter’s Church used to be. Both will probably go on the market this year, helping to alleviate the city’s extremely tight housing and rental markets.

In Penacook, the exterior of a three-story apartment complex at the old Allied Leather Co. tannery has taken shape with windows recently installed.

The project at 35 Canal St. will eventually become 54 moderate-income apartments. The first phase of the development is scheduled for completion in September and will feature 34 units.

The project has a total budget of $7.715 million and is being financed in part through N.H. Housing Finance Authority and Peoples United Bank. Phase II of the project is expected to begin in 2021, the city reported.

In the city’s downtown, at 135 N. State St., developer Jonathan Chorlian’s vision for a “pocket neighborhood” where St. Peter’s Church used to be has nearly become a reality.

The two-story, high-end, single-family condos at the Rollins Court site have progressed to the point where exterior siding has been installed on several of the buildings.

St. Peter’s Church, part of the Christ the King Parish, was deconsecrated by Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester and then torn down in 2019. The church was built in the 1950s, according to city records, and sported a distinctive A-frame style roof.

Two other buildings on the site – the Gov. Frank West Rollins mansion and carriage house – were saved and incorporated into the project’s final design.

Saint John the Evangelist Church on South Main Street is the parish’s remaining church. The other church in the parish, Sacred Heart, was turned into condos by Chorlian a few years back.

In Penacook, the tannery on Canal and Crescent streets has been an industrial site since at least 1846, first as the site of warehouses for the nearby Penacook textile mill, then as a tannery after the collapse of New England’s textile industry in the 1940s. The Allied Leather operation was so large it operated a wastewater treatment plant and coal-fired electrical generator.

The tannery went bankrupt in 1987, and the city bought the property in 2006 after failed attempts to develop it. Cleanup was difficult, as the state Department of Environmental Services said that site “had been used for disposal of leather scraps, which were contaminated with chromium” and that as the buried leather decayed “it produced methane, posing an explosion risk and potential vapor intrusion and structural problems with new construction.”

Cleanup, funded in part by a $1.8 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, allowed the removal of more than 1,000 tons of leather scraps and associated soils, as well as nearly 1,000 tons of soil contaminated with other toxins.

The city of Concord sold the 2.5-acre lot to Caleb Development Corporation for $540,000 last year after spending about $467,000 improving the site. The city retained approximately 1.5 acres of land along the Contoocook River for a potential future riverfront park.

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