Hundreds of apartments proposed at former Sprague factory near Concord airport

  • Proposed development at site of Sprague building, Pembroke Road, Feb.2021 TF Moran—Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 2/22/2021 4:53:15 PM

Hundreds of apartments and townhouses are being proposed for the site of the former Sprague Electric building on Pembroke Road near the Concord airport.

A public hearing has been set for March on the first phase of the proposal, to create a trio of four-story apartment buildings containing a total of 236 units along the south end of the property, facing Regional Drive. They would be located behind the current building.

Plans submitted by engineering firm T.F. Moran for the owners, ZLBV Properties, call for the Sprague factory to be replaced with two subsequent phases that add another four-story apartment building with 48 units as well as 86 three-story townhouses. A 14,000-square-foot mixed-use building on Pembroke Road is also in the plans.

The area is part of the Opportunity Corridor Performance District. It changes some zoning requirements to allow more uses, including high-density residential, in “under-utilized urban properties” as well as some brownfield sites.

Much of this property is taken up by the former Sprague Electric building, which closed in 1992.

Sprague Electric opened the 120,000-square-foot complex in 1958, when it was an electronics behemoth headquartered in a sprawling former mill in North Adams, Mass., that now houses the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. More than 600 people worked at the Concord plant at its peak, part of roughly 12,000 employees worldwide.

The property has been little used since Sprague left. It currently houses Community Bridges, a regional support service for people with certain disabilities, and a driving school.

The development scale of the plan may draw opposition from people living in adjacent single-family homes along Pembroke Road and Canterbury Avenue. The property also adjoins Concord Christian Academy.

New Hampshire, like many places, has long faced a housing crunch that has driven up rents and real estate prices. That trend has been increased by the pandemic. The median sale price for a house in New Hampshire in September was $350,000, about 19% higher than one year earlier.

This led to a push to make it easier for developers to build housing of all types.

One issue that the development may face is restrictions on building height because it is so close to the airport. Planners will have to ensure that the apartment buildings don’t intrude into airspace used by the National Guard and private planes.

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

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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