Concord Publisher's Note:
By Dan Szczesny
Concord has not really seen a decline in
construction or development for about a
decade. And that trend continues today.
In fact, just a cursory glance around
the city will illustrate just how many
big-ticket projects are happening:
Capital Commons, Penacook Mill, the old
Blue Cross building, Concord Heights
Community Center and the Concord
Hospital expansion, to name a few.
Some are private, some are public, some are jointly developed, but they
all have a lot to do with a city that is growing more aware of its role
in plotting out its own future.
All too often, officials take a hands- off approach to development,
leaving the growth of a city to market forces. But there’s another side
to city hall, beyond fixing potholes and making sure the garbage is
removed. Instead of keeping developers and the private sector at arm's
length, Concord should take an active role in what the city will be like
five, ten or even 50 years from now.
The good news is that Concord officials appear to understand this.
The former Blue Cross building development on Pillsbury Street is an
example of this. Though this is primarily a private-sector project by
developer Steve Duprey, the city nonetheless waived impact fees as
incentive to developers and helped with infrastructure issues like
traffic studies. Now, the former 120,000-square-foot eyesore is nearing
completion and already has a list of tenants like the Eye Center of New
Hampshire, the NH Bar Association, Sanders Family Medicine, a dentist
and a fitness facility ready to move in.
The $12 million complex is scheduled to open in mid-May.
There will always be details to quibble about, and sometimes if those
details are not ironed out, like the parking issues surrounding the
Capitol Commons project, they can actually hurt current local stores
just trying to get by. But at least, this time, finally, there appears
to be progress on that project as well. Concrete on that project began
to pour a couple weeks ago, and the city council stepped up this week
and added a dozen new parking spaces to streets around the construction
site. The move came after weeks of petitioning by area business owners
who feared for their economic lives.
There’s only a small amount of parking spaces at issue here, but it
shows that, at the very least, the city recognizes the important
connection between the smaller destinations, like Gibson's Book Store
and the Concord Co-op, and the larger new project. The larger project
should not swallow up the smaller businesses.
The key here is to make the city a viable and cost-effective place for
developers and businesses to thrive while maintaining the look of the
neighborhoods and livelihood of current businesses and residents. It’s
not easy, but so far Concord is on the right track
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