Publisher's Note — Looking Down The Road

On a recent trip to Starfish Grill, I took a right out of the parking lot and ended up in another parking lot.

This one was on South Bedford Street, which is no longer a street. The city traded it away to Auto City, which now parks its tow trucks there. So I had to do a U-turn and go back out South Commercial past WMUR-TV and onto Granite Street. No big deal.

But it will become a big deal soon. With the baseball stadium and the 8,000 people who will go to games there several times a week plus the hotel guests, the condominium residents and finally the construction on Granite Street for the widening, it will be a nightmare for traffic. It will also be a nightmare for the businesses in the mill buildings along South Commercial and the baseball team. Who wants to be stuck in traffic?

A solution for this mess would be to build a road between Queen City Avenue and the baseball park though the Jac Pac land the city has agreed to buy.

The city has a great opportunity with that Jac Pac land. It’s centrally located and lies along the Merrimack River. The city is considering several ideas, inlcuding making it into a park, selling or leasing it to big-box stores, such as Lowe’s, or adding some homes and smaller businesses.

Whatever is decided, the plan should fit in with the baseball park development, the river walk and bridge across the Merrimack. Red Oak, the large local aprtment rental company, hopes to turn the West Side neighborhood immediately across the river into a planned community that would include housing, retail space, offices and parks. People living in that development would use the footbridge to cross the Merrimack and visit downtown and the ballpark. It’s a really great idea that would do more to transform this city into the economic tiger it could be than any other project proposed thus far.

However, the Red Oak project would be crippled by a big-box store development across the river and blunted if a road doesn’t connect Queen City Avenue to the ballpark development and the river walk.

City officials need to take a broad look at development in the Jac Pac area before deciding what to do with the land. Short- term tax advantages from selling the land to a Lowe’s would be more costly to the city in the long run. A Lowe’s-type store would pull down the value of the condos at the ballpark, hurt the value of the hotel and likely kill the Red Oak project.

More than that, a Lowe’s type store would be valueless in five years when the bix box store relocates because it is too old. Then the city would be left with a hulking empty building.

Would the city then have to buy back the land to redevelop it again?

—Jody Reese

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