Valley News – Proposed Apartment Buildings in Downtown Lebanon near Colburn Park

LEBANON – Upper Valley owner Mike Davidson has unveiled an ambitious mixed-use project that would create nearly 150 new apartments on the site of the old village market and redesign the skyline at the entrance to Colburn Park in downtown Lebanon.

Davidson’s company, Execusuite, which has redeveloped some old schools and commercial buildings in the upper valley into housing, showed renderings of the project earlier this month to the Lebanon Planning Council in what the council chairman, Bruce Garland, described it as an opportunity “just to bounce some ideas back and forth.

Village Market, which has long served the elderly residents of Rogers House across Colburn Park, closed in 2018 and Davidson finalized the purchase of the two-acre property this month.

Davidson, who lives abroad much of the year, was not present in person or remotely at the planning board meeting, but his COO, Tim Sidore, along with architect Jim Wasser of the company White River Junction Studio Nexus, took the members of the board of directors. through their conceptual plans.

The first stages of the project would be two apartment buildings, one a six-story, 48,000 square foot, 72-unit building and the other a 6½-storey, 55,000 square foot, 75-unit building constructed. in two separate phases. The phase I building would be hidden behind the village market building. The Phase 2 building would be constructed at the corner of Mascoma Street and Water Street.

A third and final phase, described in an account submitted with returns to the board as “a longer-term redevelopment plan”, would replace the village market building – which is currently occupied by a tanning salon, a video game store and laundry room – with a six-story L-shaped building containing 21,000 square feet of retail and dining space on the lower level with 86 apartment units totaling 71,000 square feet of the five upper levels.

If all three phases were completed, the project would include more than 240 housing units.

Sidore said the redevelopment proposal is designed to be in line with Lebanon’s “master plan and vision study” which calls for new residential housing to be concentrated in high-density areas of the city.

“We see this particular land as an ideal site for this purpose” which “will really help revitalize downtown Lebanon,” Sidore told the board. He said via email that the three-building project would be the largest Execusuite undertaken to date.

Wasser, the architect, said the first building that would stand on the other side of the old village market building “would be easiest to build at this point” and with the second building “would soon follow. time after “.

The third phase would depend to a large extent on how things go in the first two phases and would include retail space for what Sidore described as a “community market”, although he did. covered by adding “I can’t say that would definitely happen” but “every effort” would be made to “bring a market here to the city center“.

“Our main motivation is to bring density and activity to the pedestrianized city center. In order to add a grocery store and a restaurant, we need that density, ”Sidore said by email on Tuesday.

He said about 80% of the units would be studios and 20% would be one-bedroom apartments with rental rates of around $ 3.50 per square foot.

Preliminary renderings show studios are around 433 square feet in size, and one-bedroom units up to 929 square feet.

The first phase, which is the smallest, is expected to cost around $ 12 million to build, Sidore said.

The first and second phase would take around two years, “barring unforeseen circumstances,” he said.

Throughout the approximately 30-minute board presentation on December 13, Sidore and Wasser pointed out that the model of what Execusuite wants to do at the village market in Lebanon is supported by what the company has designed and built in the 69 unit complex on South Main Street in White River Junction and, earlier, the conversion of the former Lebanon Junior High School building on Bank Street into 43 rental units.

“We have proven at White River Junction that we can create great buildings downtown and that they work very well in the fabric of the city,” said Wasser, whose company Studio Nexus also designed Davidson’s recently completed South Main Street apartment complex in White River Junction and other Execusuite projects.

At the same time, the comparison to the South Main Street project aroused an acute challenge from a longtime Planning Council member, who wanted to know if Execusuite was doing more than just importing a formula from the other side. from the river.

Calling the renderings of the buildings “truly wonderful,” Board member Joan Monroe said “I can’t see downtown Lebanon at all” and observed that the design was “almost exactly the same. “as the South Main Street project and asked” how does this complement the character of the existing downtown “Lebanon”?

Wasser countered that the brick on the facade and window details would reflect the style and color of the buildings around the Colburn Park neighborhood.

But he also noted that there are cost and hardware considerations that also come into play and it wouldn’t be possible to recreate the architecture of another century.

“We’re not going to be able to recreate the buildings that are downtown… modern technology has taken us a little beyond that,” he said. “But it is no longer profitable to make this kind of buildings. We will therefore have to reinterpret them in a more modern way. “

Contact John Lippman at [email protected]

Comments are closed.