Historic building downtown will be replaced by new five-story building

By JAMIE L. COSTA

Monitor staff

Published: 12-05-2022 9:54 AM

An 1854 Victorian home on Main Street is expected to be torn down in the next several months to make room for a new five-story eatery and entertainment venue spearheaded by Concord developer Stephen Duprey.

Despite Duprey’s efforts to relocate or donate the green historic home and offer up to $100,000 in moving expenses, neither the city nor private buyers were willing to take on the project. The city approved it for demolition this past summer, but Duprey has continued to delay the action in hopes of finding a new home for the building.

“I worked for the last three years trying to move the green house and I was unsuccessful in finding a site to put it,” Duprey said. “I spent a lot of money keeping the house up and that effort seems to have come to an end.”

Duprey plans to start construction on the new downtown building no later than April.

It will be located between the Concord Food Co-op and the Bank of New Hampshire Stage and is designed to feature an eye-catching exterior. Duprey expects to have a Friendly Toast restaurant on the first floor and three floors of office space between an event space on the fifth floor that will be operated by the Grappone Conference Center, Duprey said. 

Duprey said it will be critical to make sure the food Co-op and the Bank of New Hampshire Stage remain open during construction despite their close proximity to the site. 

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“I wanted to do a two-story building with a restaurant on the first floor and an event space on the second floor but city leadership felt it would be a substantial underutilization of the downtown site and asked us to think bigger,” Duprey said. 

Before proposing his current plans, Duprey looked into housing for the location. 

The Friendly Toast, which will take up the entirety of the first floor, is a popular chain restaurant throughout New England that advertises an all-day brunch bar. The Concord location will mark the third in New Hampshire and the eleventh throughout the region. 

To meet the five-floor recommendation of the city, the second, third and fourth floors will offer 15,000 square feet of office space with personalized and private lobbies. Though the office market is slow in the city, it remains steady and Duprey is hopeful that adding more office space to the downtown area will be successful, he said. 

The fifth floor will act as an event space for birthday and retirement parties or business gatherings. Visitors are expected to have access to an outdoor seasonal roof and bar. The kitchen to service the roof will also be on the fifth floor and accessed via elevator. 

“The event space is unique in that we own the 1942 Dingman Diner, which has been restored but does not work, and will be great to have as a centerpiece of the event space,” Duprey said. “We are also in the process of contracting to have an old Airstream trailer converted into a bar to put on the roof.”

Behind the building, an outdoor patio space will feature a freight box kitchen modified for short-term rentals for folks who are just getting into the restaurant business and want to find a niche in the Concord market. 

“Eventually, the original stable, which is not part of this project right now, will be turned into a country western Nashville-type restaurant and bar,” Duprey said. “City officials are enthusiastic about the project other than the fact that we are losing a historical building.” 

Commemorating the history of the site, Duprey plans to honor its significance in Concord by decorating it with historical memorabilia and artifacts from the Victorian home. 

When the home was first built on the property in the mid-1800s, it was run as a bakery by a contractor of the United States Army who made biscuits for the union troops in the  Civil War. The biscuits and bread were carted down Storrs Street and loaded onto trains for shipment. 

Before presenting his site plans to the Planning Board in December, Duprey wanted to get the community to weigh in and provide feedback on the project and visual designs. An online survey, hosted by the Concord Young Professionals Network, allows visitors to vote on their favorite plan for the new building.

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