Supermarket interested for development near Exit 17 

  • proposed developed near Exit 17 Interchange Development LLC—Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 10/17/2019 3:20:25 PM
Modified: 10/17/2019 3:20:15 PM

The long-running plan to expand retail development in Penacook seems closer to reality, with an unnamed supermarket interested in anchoring a plaza near Exit 17, but a familiar obstacle remains: Who’s going to fix up the intersection of Whitney and Hoit roads?

“There are over 100 acres of land on Whitney Road which can be developed to make jobs, produce tax revenue, but none of it is possible unless the intersection is addressed. It’s kind of the lynchpin to everything else,” said Deputy City Manager Carlos Baia.

The intersection of Whitney with Hoit Road, which is state-owned Route 4, has been discussed for years but the issue has gained importance with the news that developers Laurie and David Rauseo have found an interested tenant for a full-sized supermarket. A conceptual plan shown recently by City Councilor Brent Todd included the supermarket as an anchor for development that includes a restaurant, warehouse and office space on a 42-acre parcel owned by the Rauseos on Whitney Road, near Exit 17 on I-93.

“We’re in conversations with an end-user, a supermarket. The details regarding the deal and the negotiations hinge upon the conclusion of the offsite improvement analysis,” David Rauseo said Thursday.

“Traffic engineers (say) it currently is at or above capacity and some sort of improvements are necessary today,” said Rauseo. Adding a large retail center would turn it into a hopeless snarl, which is why city planners say it must be upgraded.

The complication is that Route 4 is a state road. For years Concord has been trying to get an intersection upgrade included in the state’s Ten-Year Highway Plan, without success. The city put $100,000 into the latest Capital Improvement Plan for designing an upgrade, which Baia said in a report to the City Council “is necessary if the city wishes to see additional tax-generating private development along Whitney Road.”

Various ideas have been put forward for the intersection over the years, including adding traffic signals or turning it into a roundabout. A traffic study is currently being done for the developers; its results will guide the next moves.

“The state has no plans to participate financially in this deal, so we still have to figure out what the development partners would be. The town of Canterbury is right there – they might participate,” said Baia. “But we’re at the pretty nascent stages of that process.”

Staff says the intersection work could not be completed until the fall of 2021 at the earliest.

Bringing a supermarket to Penacook has been the subject of hope and argument for years. Back in 2011, the Rauseos had similar plans for a supermarket at this location, but it ran into city-imposed size limitations put in place in 2008 to prevent competition with redevelopment efforts in downtown Penacook. Instead, they built the current gas station and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Those redevelopment efforts surrounding the former tannery site on Canal Street never managed to lure a supermarket, although a medical office building and 54 apartments are being built there.

The city has since lifted the size limitations and rezoned the Whitney Road area, hoping to attract the business it couldn’t attract to downtown Penacook.

 

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)


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