Developer moves forward with Dairy Queen on Concord’s Loudon Road

  • The long-vacant Entertainment Cinema and Movie Gallery property on Loudon Road in Concord is seen on April 8, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

  • The long-vacant Entertainment Cinema and Movie Gallery property on Loudon Road in Concord is seen on April 8, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

  • The long-vacant Entertainment Cinema and Movie Gallery property on Loudon Road in Concord is seen on April 8, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

  • The long-vacant Entertainment Cinema and Movie Gallery property on Loudon Road in Concord is seen on April 8, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

  • The long-vacant Entertainment Cinema and Movie Gallery property on Loudon Road in Concord is seen on April 8, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

Monitor staff
Published: 5/18/2016 10:30:51 PM

With the okay from the Concord planning board on Wednesday, Dairy Queen could open in a long-abandoned lot on Loudon Road by the end of the year.

The Hodges Companies owns 192-196 Loudon Road, which once housed Entertainment Cinema and a branch location of Movie Gallery. For the past six years, the sagging building and potholed parking lot has been sitting vacant on the market. But this spring, the developer submitted plans to the city to tear down the existing eyesores and build anew.

“We have had extensive and continuous marketing on this property since we acquired it, and have worked up many concepts to try to get interested parties and retailers to go in there and use it,” Alan Johnson, president of the Hodges Companies, said. “We’re pleased to come forward with the proposal we have today.”

One of three buildings will be a roughly 2,600-square-foot Dairy Queen. That project was approved earlier this month by the Concord zoning board, and the planning board followed suit Wednesday.

The two other buildings have been suggested for a restaurant and a bank. Those uses haven’t been finalized, however, and Hodges Companies would need to come back to the planning board with future plans for those buildings.

While the development faces Loudon Road, it also backs up to a residential neighborhood on Branch Turnpike Road. Two abutters spoke before the planning board to ask about the buffer between their homes and the nearby businesses. Specifically, they asked about lighting and fencing.

“Obviously we don’t want Clark Griswold’s house to be illuminating the whole residential area,” Chad Duford joked.

But they won’t miss their old neighbors.

“I built my house in 2003, and I’ve been looking at that movie theater,” Duford said. “I don’t think anybody enjoys looking at that place.”

Johnson said he is willing to work with city staff and abutters on the issues they raised.

The Loudon Road theater dates back to the early 1980s, according to Monitor archives, and Entertainment Cinemas began leasing the space in 2002. That company eventually bought the building and the neighboring Movie Gallery for a combined $1.5 million in 2005. At the time, the company’s owner pledged to overhaul the dilapidated theater.

Five years later, however, that renovation had not materialized. In 2010, Entertainment Cinemas sold the two lots – 4 acres in all – for $2 million to the Hodges Companies. The Movie Gallery next door had already closed, and the cinema’s last credits rolled in May 2010. Passers-by would have seen a yellowing marquee sign outside declaring, “Four acres of land for sale. Will subdivide.”

City records show the two lots are valued at a combined $1.9 million. With planning board approval, Johnson said his company hopes to open Dairy Queen before winter.

Also at the meeting, the board approved a sign at a new location for Stratham Tire, which burned down in mid-April. The building is located at 92 Manchester St., next to the previous store. Last month, company President Denise Littlefield told the Monitor the tire shop planned to reopen within a couple months of the fire.

Next month, the board will consider a project to turn Sacred Heart Church on Pleasant Street into high-end condominiums.

Developer Jon Chorlian got an okay from the zoning board earlier this month; at that meeting, several neighbors said they had concerns to bring to the planning board later in the approval process.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321, mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)




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