Investing in downtown Nashua

Downtown Nashua differs a bit from other large New Hampshire cities. Although the downtown area lacks the highway accessibility and mid- and high-rise office towers that Manchester and Concord enjoy, it boasts atmosphere and character, along with plans to improve access and spur redevelopment.The downtown community is made up of an eclectic mix of businesses with a balance of entrepreneurial creativity, a strong infrastructure, vibrant dining and retail and an energized workplace setting. For many residents within the downtown area, the ability to walk to work, to dinner or shop makes it most convenient.Downtown Nashua has an array of wonderful restaurants and great small businesses that are able to forge ahead while competing with national chains along the busy Daniel Webster Highway in the south end and Amherst Street/Route 101 in the northwest of the city. Many of the options along those busy retail and office corridors offer convenience with access and parking and this is where things are changing for downtown.There is a project in the works that will greatly increase access to downtown. The city has finally broken ground on the Broad Street Parkway – a project that has been decades in the making. This new parkway will deliver direct access from Exit 6 on the F.E. Everett Turnpike/U.S. Route 3 down to the millyard and Main Street. The parkway will open up access to the many mill buildings, office and retail properties that have been underutilized for many decades.Other activityAlong with the Broad Street Parkway project, there has been additional activity that will have a positive impact on downtown Nashua. Indian Head Plaza at 33 Temple St. was purchased last year by the R.J. Finlay Company. Over the past year, the firm has been successful with leasing space and attracting new tenants downtown. With improvements being made at the property, success at Indian Head Plaza plays a major role in the revitalization of downtown business.Another large project slated for downtown is the Bridge Street Development, headed by Renaissance Downtown LLC. This 26-acre parcel is jointly owned by the city and private landowners who have partnered with Renaissance Downtown to develop the site for a mixed use of residential and neighborhood retail. The property sits along the Merrimack and Nashua rivers.For Phase 1, Renaissance has proposed upwards of 250 residential units and 20,000 square feet of neighborhood retail for roughly half of the 26 acres.Local developer John Stabile has also been working on his Cotton Mill development, which consists of the redevelopment of a former mill building into 101 residential units along the Nashua River. There will also be a very small amount of commercial space available.Some sites for potential future development/redevelopment include 34 Franklin St., the former Mohawk Tannery and the former Fimbel Door site.An approximately 340,000-square-foot mill building, 34 Franklin St. formerly housed portions of Nashua Corp. There is potential for both a residential and commercial redevelopment of the property. The former Mohawk Tannery site has been sitting vacant for decades. The former Fimbel Door site sits adjacent to the former Mohawk Tannery site.Combined, there are more than 20 acres of land that have been sitting underutilized for too long. All of these sites sit along the Nashua River and could greatly benefit from access from the Broad Street Parkway. There has been talk in the past of developing these sites, but now that the parkway is under construction, we could see things move ahead sooner than later.City officials, downtown business owners and the community as a whole appear to be eager and committed to support the next wave of growth and development. As plans unfold we will see a downtown Nashua where residents, businesses and visitors experience a vibrant city and all it has to offer.Michael Tamposi, a senior associate in the Manchester office of CBRE/New England, can be contacted at 603-792-2602.