The Newest Addition to the River Park Site

This past winter will be remembered for its severity for a long time, but spring time is awakening at River Park and it promises to be an exciting year.  Don Curtis reports that we had a number of deer that wintered on the site, including three bucks.  Last fall, Leann Briggs reported a black bear female with two cubs regularly cruised the site and the turkey population is still clammering for another corn maze!  The newest "siting" on the site is a 1928 Worchester Lunch Car that was relocated to the 167 Main Street portion of the property and stored temporarily for future use in the first building at River Park.  This bears some explanation.

Kathy and I have always been diner fans and I have restored a couple during my real estate career in Cambridge.  This Worchester Lunch Car, Number 636, was formerly the Midway Diner and then Miss Shrewsbury in Massachusetts before I purchased it in the 1980's.  We moved the diner to Norwich, Vermont when we lived there and attached it to one of the barns and added a smokehouse addition for BBQ.  When we moved from Norwich to Hanover, we transported the diner to our home and made it a party place for our kids on the foundation of an old horse barn.  With 15 seats at the counter, it was perfect for hockey, soccer, baseball, and other school teams and we had a lot of fun hosting neighborhood block parties.  Recently, we put our Hanover home under agreement and we decided to move the diner to River Park.

Last year, Lyme retained Elkus Manfredi, a Boston architectural firm, to develop conceptual plans for the first building at River Park, which will be located on the Route 10 lot that formerly housed the Bailey Brothers Auto Parts structure.  During several design meetings we decided it would be fun to locate the diner in the first floor atrium of the retail/office building and to use it as a coffee shop. We have temporarily boarded the windows to protect the etched glass and registration number of the diner, which are almost impossible to replace. The plans continue to be advanced and we will be hosting a neighborhood meeting in the fall to show our neighbors our thinking for the first mixed use building at River Park.

Permitting issues continue to take more effort than I hoped for, but we made some progress over the winter regarding the N.H. DOT in re-evaluating the Route 10 roadway designs they suggested last year.  As you know, Lyme did not think widening Route 10 to three full lanes for the portion of the road fronting onto our site was good traffic planning or good for our neighbors.  We met with the neighbors and city staff to discuss our concerns.  Over the winter, Lyme commissioned new traffic studies and roadway designs from VHB, our current traffic consultant, and presented them to the N.H. DOT for review.  We were recently informed that the state would be ready to discuss our proposed changes in May, and we are awaiting that opportunity. 

Once the roadway issues are resolved, Lyme can then advance the remaining state permits that are necessary to begin construction. On the Lebanon front, our site plan and subdivision plans have both been approved and the Planning Board recently gave the project more time to secure the additional permits necessary given the complicated nature of the conditions proposed for the new curb cut on Route 10.  We will be going back to the Planning Board to present our conceptual designs for the first building as well as improvements proposed for Crafts Avenue.  The current subdivision plan dimensions for the width of the Crafts Avenue extension are significantly wider than what the City Council approved, and we hope the Planning Board will allow us to modify those dimensions to match the existing street and sidewalks.  This modification will be filed this summer since we have two single family house lot buyers ready to purchase and two more lots under consideration.

I hope this answers the emails we received when the diner was moved to the site, and I hope to communicate more frequently over the summer and fall.  The River Park website is being updated to make it more user friendly and oriented to the leasing/construction phase of River Park versus permitting.  Please feel free to give us some feedback as the new site comes on line this month.