Signs of life in commercial real estate
I’m often asked if I am seeing any activity in the commercial real estate market, and the answer these days is “I’m seeing a lot.”There are many projects in the concept or approval phase, but I want to focus on those construction deals that are “in the ground” and on new occupants in various spaces in the greater Manchester area.First, an infrastructure update. The work on Interstate 93 and the Airport Access Road is ongoing, with the access road scheduled for completion in mid-2012. Also of note is the expansion of the Hooksett waste treatment plant — to twice its size. This will be critical for the further expansion of Exits 10 and 11.It is anticipated that sewer lines will be installed under the Merrimack River, connecting the Exit 10 and 11 areas on the west side of the river with the treatment plant on the east side. Airport area The buildings occupied by Stonyfield Yogurt and Gulf South Medical are expanding, and a new building to be occupied by Trimmerz Landscaping of Londonderry will be built at the corner of Harvey Road and Aviation Drive. A groundbreaking for site work for the 125,000-square-foot Falling Water Office Park on Kitty Hawk Lane is scheduled for July 21. A few sales also recently took place in the airport area, with Summit Packaging purchasing a building on Industrial Drive, and Vulcan Electric buying on George Avenue. White Rock Distillers has vacated the building at the corner of Perimeter and Industrial and is being replaced by another liquor-related business. AAA Pump bought a warehouse off Brown Avenue that has been vacant for some time, and the facility on Delta Drive formerly owned by Amsco was sold to the truck and equipment sales company that vacated Gold Street for the new Walmart . Manchester The Manchester skyline is changing as a result of the construction of the new Elliot at River’s Edge project, which includes a 236,000-square-foot ambulatory care center and a 700-car parking garage. This development will anchor the south end of Elm Street and, it’s hoped, generate new development along Elm southof Granite. Although not officially in the ground yet, all signs point toward a new Market Basket supermarket at the site of the former Rockwell facility on Elm Street, just south of the Verizon Arena. This will add to the renaissance of Elm, as noted above. Another notable construction project on Elm Street is a new four-story mixed-use building at 971 Elm. It is intended to provide additional office space on two floors for Benefit Strategies, which is located next door, as well as retail on the street level and an apartment on the fourth floor. The site resembles a “big city” construction project, which Manchester hasn’t seen since the construction of Manchester Place at the corner of Elm and Bridge several years ago. Inventor Dean Kamen has just about completed renovation of the Pandora Building, the “grand dame” of the Millyard buildings and the first one you see as you drive into Manchester from the Granite Street highway exit. The glittering copper of the cupola has given way to a more seasoned look, but the interior boasts upgrades and features that will make it highly attractive to office tenants. A parking deck next door also is nearing completion. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some new restaurants in town, with Manchester developing a reputation as a restaurant destination. Z has expanded into new space next door, Wings Your Way has opened in the former Chandler’s at the corner of Elm and Bridge, and Portland Pie has opened a pizza shop in the former Merrimack Restaurant location. There also is a new Asian restaurant on Second Street in a brand-new building that seemed to rise up overnight. Bedford Several projects have been approved and will be moving forward very soon, including a new Lexus dealership on the site of C.R. Sparks, which closed on June 25, a new Mini Cooper dealership across from Target and Lowe’s on South River Road, a new medical office building on South River Road near Bedford Ambulatory Surgery Center, and another Elliot Hospital center at the corner of Old Bedford Road and Route 101. The owners of the Bedford Mall have been before the planning board a couple of times for review of their plans to significantly renovate the plaza, which will include bringing in Kohl’s, moving Staples to a new strip building on site, and adding a fast-food restaurant pad site near the entrance. A gym has taken the front space at Sebbins Brook Plaza near the new access road, Naser Jewelers now occupies the old Martin’s House of Cloth building, Martin’s is in the former Sullivan Construction building on Kilton Road, and Woodbury Court sold at a foreclosure sale to an out-of-state investor a few months ago. Hooksett The big news in Hooksett is that Market Basket will be building a store at Exit 10, just south of I-93. The company has been looking for a site in the Manchester area for some time, and it’s interesting that it has located two — along with the one in downtown Manchester — in such a short period of time.Ocean State Job Lots has taken over a portion of the former Walmart on Hooksett Road, and Tractor Supply is ready to take over more of that space, leaving just one unit for another retailer. Although no details have been released yet, it appears that a project of major proportions will take shape at Exit 11, where Cabela’s was slated to locate a few years ago. Merrimack This town has a new district court, which was built on the grounds of the town hall and has opened for business. The McDonough family, owners of the Homestead and Fratello’s, have bought Silo’s Steakhouse on the Daniel Webster Highway and are renovating it as a new Homestead. The four-unit building at the former Madden’s Restaurant site now has three new occupants. The owners of the former hotel at Exit 11 are in the planning stages for converting the building to an assisted-living facility, but nothing is finalized or approved at this point. Dan Scanlon, JD, CCIM, is an adviser with Grubb & Ellis|Coldstream Real Estate Advisors Inc., Bedford. He can be reached at 603-206-9605 or email@example.com.