After a meeting in the Fall with members of the NH Division of Economic Development, an initial recommendation was to install new signs at the entrances to town to make a good first impression. The current wooden signs, (sample shown to the right) are showing their age.
The EDC reviewed dozens of NH town signs and identified the most appealing features. These features were used to create a prototype. This prototype was sent out to three NH sign vendors, who were requested to submit designs as well as estimates for the sign, the posts, and the installation. A local woodcarver submitted a separate estimate for the carved bear cubs to be attached to the sign posts.
The committee decided that the two most prominent features should be the town name and the slogan. If you were at the Deliberative Session in March 2019, you will recall the speech given by Chairman Michael Frascinella that the EDC wanted to turn Bear Brook State Park from a liability into an asset by claiming that "We are the Home of Bear Brook State Park."
The EDC negotiated with three local vendors on the size, design, materials, and wording for the signs. The selectmen approved the signs in late April and the sign vendor installed the new signs on July 9th. The woodcarver completed the bear cubs a week later. They were installed on August 1st with the help of the Highway Dept.
As a bit of a Wow factor, carved bear cubs adorn the signs as shown in the following photo, emphasizing the town's connection to the state park.
The old signs were donated to the Allenstown Historical Society.
The EDC has been developing a proposal for an ice skating park. The freestanding ice rink is to be modular so that it can be set up in early winter and disassembled in the spring. This type of park was one of the top desirable recreational projects cited in the "Recreational Amenities Project Scope" that was issued after the Plan NH Charette of October 2016.
Three locations (the field at Dupont School, Volunteers Park on River Rd., and Iris Pond off Route 3) have been considered. The EDC met with school officials in late October 2018 and learned that they were planning to use the field for a basketball court and other equipment. Second choice is Volunteers Park using either local materials or a more expensive commercial rink. Funding is being sought.
Details about this project are in the Project Proposal. This project is on hold due to a lack of property on which to install the skating rink.
In response to a request from the Allenstown School Board, the EDC has been working on the feasibility of constructing a skateboard park for the children of the town. A set of old ramps has been located and the plan is to renovate them and install them in the downtown area.
Details about this project are in the Project Proposal. This project is on hold due to a lack of paved property on which to install the ramps.
With approval from the Selectmen, the EDC worked with the Town Administrator to create an online directory of town businesses. This was designed to be a tool for residents, neighbors, and visitors. Its purpose is to help everyone quickly find local businesses and learn what products and services they offer.
The online directory went live in August 2018 with announcements on the town web site and via the town mailing list. To encourage more businesses to sign up, a mass postal mailing was sent out in October to all businesses in Allenstown and Suncook Village.
➤ Realtors and Commercial Property Owners Solicited – May 2018
The EDC enlisted the help of the town assessor to identify all town-owned property and privately-owned commercial property in town. Mailing labels were created from that list. In addition, a list of local commercial realtors was compiled.
In May 2018, an invitation and copy of the tax exemption warrant article were mailed to all the local commercial realtors to ask their clients to consider these properties. A mass mailing was used to send the same information to the owners of commercial property in town, encouraging them to take advantage of the tax exemption.
➤ Economic Development Tax Exemptions – March 2018
Article 14 was overwhelmingly approved by 70% of the voters on March 13, 2018 by a vote of 182-77. The article became effective on April 1st, 2018, meaning that new businesses, as well as existing businesses planning to expand or upgrade their facilities, can now apply for the exemption. The tax exemption starts at 50% for the first two years and decreases to zero over 10 years. This makes Allenstown a very desirable place to build or expand a business.
EDC Members worked hard to develop a proposal, and then a warrant article, and convince the Selectmen to add it to the town warrant. We thank you, the voters, for affirming our efforts at the ballot box.
Applying for the Business Tax Exemption
You must apply for the exemption BEFORE you start any construction or renovations because the state law includes that stipulation. You should also request that the town provide you with an assessment of the property before construction/renovation begins and after construction/renovation ends so that you can see the increased value to be used to calculate the exemption.
While downtown redevelopment sounds like a promising endeavor, it includes Pembroke's more business-oriented side of Suncook Village.
Property worth marketing to businesses is along the Route 3 & 28 corridors. Investors are needed for vacant properties like the former sawmill on Chester Turnpike, and acres of commercial property bordered by Chester Turnpike, Granite St., and Route 28.
➤ Nouria Energy Acquires MEGA-X - December 2020
Nouria Energy, a large New England-based network of retail convenience stores and gas stations, acquired four MEGA X stores in New Hampshire, one of which is on Route 28 in Allenstown. Another store is down the road in Hooksett.
This can be considered another win for Allenstown since Nouria Energy considers itself a "Best in Class" retailer.
➤ Allenstown Aggregate - Commercial Building OKed – Nov. 2020
This well-know quarry on Granite St. subdivided a five-acre lot at the front end of its quarrying operation so they could build a six-unit commercial building. In July 2020, they received approval from the Planning Board for the subdivision. In Nov. 2020, they received final approval for the 12,800 sq. ft. commercial building.
They plan to lease the units to the following types of tenants.
Contractor shop such as plumbing, electrical, earthwork, utility, painter, flooring, and roofing.
Retail sales such as dry goods, hardware, auto parts, electronics, and construction products.
Repair shop such as appliance, machine, automobile, truck, and heavy equipment.
Service business such as electronics, flooring, signs, glass, and porta-potty rental.
One Wall Allenstown, LLC, a Brady Sullivan company, received conditional approval on September 2nd, 2020 from the Planning Board for converting the China Mill on Canal St. into 150 upscale apartments and various amenities. The conversion will create one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments with many amenities within the building.
On September 21, the Board of Selectmen approved a request for a seven-year tax exemption under RSA 79-E. This means the property will be taxed at its current valuation.
The target market is to be young people and empty nesters. Interior spaces are to be converted to community spaces like an Internet cafe, a small theater, or an exercise room.
A study of converted mill buildings in New Hampshire, commissioned by the developer, found that no more than two school-age children would be added to the Allenstown school system.
Toward the end of November 2020, renovations began. For starters, the interior of the building was emptied out and the old windows were removed.
➤ Suncook River Convenience Store Totally Repaved – August 2020
The owners decided to renovate the entire paved area around the store. This is the store that was totally renovated in July 2019 by LaPlante Builders.
The concrete contractor, CJD Dirtworks from Deerfield, removed the broken and fragmented concrete pad that covered the gasoline tanks. Advanced Excavating of Allenstown arrived early one morning, ground down all the old asphalt, and laid down a new layer of pavement. They were able to complete the project on the same day.
➤ Optimus - Assisted Living Facility Approved – August 2020
Optimus Senior Living received conditional approval from the Planning Board to build a new 100+ unit Assisted Living Facility on a 13-acre lot at the corner of Route 28 and Chester Turnpike.
Things went slowly for a while as Optimus negotiated several conditions with the town engineer, finalized the purchase and sale agreement with the seller, and obtained financing for the project.
In November, construction crews arrived to cut down trees, pull stumps, grade the site, spread sand for the roadways and parking lots, and install stormwater drainage pipes. As of March 2021, numerous construction machines were working on the site.
➤ Hooksett Rent-a-Tool Moves to Allenstown - May 2020
Formerly operating from a location on the Route 28 Bypass, this business has moved into quarters next to Dunkin Donuts. This family-owned equipment company rents equipment, and also sells new and used equipment, as well as parts for your own equipment.
➤ Morgan Storage Opens Three New Businesses – November 2019
A positive development was the sale of the old Key-Loc property and the adjacent parcel back in March 2018. These properties sold for a total of $1.5 million and encompass about 6.6 acres.
As of July 2019, the buyer, Morgan Storage, had cleared brush and debris from the property, graded the surrounding land, installed drainage piping to channel runoff into a new collection area, and paved the area around the entire warehouse.
In September 2019, Mr. Morgan announced that three new businesses would be moving into the facility.
After completing lot line adjustments and upgrades to the water and sewer lines, the new businesses opened in November 2019. They included Vault Motor Storage, Morgan Records Management, and Granite State Shuttle Service.
Vault Motor Storage occupies about 22,000 sq. ft. This company provides a secure, heated, and modern indoor vehicle storage facility. They store all kinds of vehicles such as boats, RVs, motorcycles, exotic and classic cars, and provide 24/7 surveillance. With existing facilities in Merrimack and Belmont, NH, the Allenstown facility is centrally located between Concord and Manchester.
Morgan Records Management takes up about 22,000 sq. ft. The company bills itself as the national leader in document scanning and records management solutions. They offer secure, accessible storage of documents such as books, oversized maps, historical documents, microfilm, business cards, manufacturing coupons, and x-rays. With headquarters in Manchester, NH, they have chosen Allenstown as their newest facility.
Granite State Shuttle Service occupies about 18,700 sq. ft. They provide on-demand pickup and delivery of everything from envelope mail to palletized freight, They serve most of New England with daily service. With a fleet of over 150 vehicles, they have expanded into Allenstown. Their fleet of small trucks makes deliveries to local businesses all day long.
A new part-time business opened on River Road. Having purchased the business from a previous owner, it is under new, Allenstown management. This unique business uses a wood-fired brick oven to cook a large variety of unique pizzas.
The menu includes everything from your basic cheese pie to selections like Chicken Broccoli Alfredo, Chicken Bacon Ranch, and Barbecued Chicken.
This summer, the Family Dollar store went through some major renovations. A few years ago, Family Dollar merged with Dollar Tree. It was to be expected that, after a merger, some stores would be scheduled for closure. To Allenstown's credit, the store near the intersection or Routes 3 & 28 not only stayed open but experienced significant improvements.
As shown in the following photo, the building received new signage and the deteriorated parking lot was completely repaved and restriped. Inside the store, the fully stocked aisles have aisle numbers and merchandise labels to make it easy to find what you need. The checkout stations are against the front wall making it easy to ring up your purchases and be on your way.
➤ Hudson Quarry Does Total Makeover of Former Big Jim's Outlet – August 2019
The sign on the fence announces that the Hudson Quarry Corp. has bought the former Big Jim's Bargain Outlet. Based in Hudson, NH, they offer homeowners and landscape and masonry professionals some of the most unique selections of masonry, natural stone, and landscape products available.
The purchase occurred in mid-December 2018 and the property sold for $715,000, which was below the asking price of $870,000. In early March 2019, a construction crew demolished the old sheds along the edge of the property.
In June 2019, they opened a temporary showroom in the rear building and hung out the "Open for Business" signs. In July, they renovated the front building for use as their main showroom. The store is open for business with many attractive displays of stone and block outside the store. A Grand Opening was in August 2019.
➤ Brady Sullivan Purchases China Mill – August 2019
A prospective buyer met with town officials about converting the Suncook Mill, which was up for sale, into upscale apartments. The buyer worked with the Selectmen and the Planning Board to extend the RSA 79-E Incentive Zone to the mill and convert it to a residential/commercial zone. Voters approved the changes at an Oct. 23, 2019 special election. The mill was purchased by Brady Sullivan Properties and they have begun developing detailed plans for the conversion.
➤ SpareBox Storage – February 2021 (originally 603 Storage, July 2019)
On May 30, 2018, the Planning Board approved the plans for a self-storage facility at 15 Chester Turnpike. When asked why they chose Allenstown, the answer was that they wanted a location near a population center and at least several miles from any existing storage facility. Allenstown fit their criteria.
As of mid-July 2019, the sheds were pretty much completed, the driveways were paved, and the business sign was installed. The view is facing west toward Sully's. In early September, the owner was so busy that he decided to forego a Grand Opening.
In February 2021, SpareBox Storage bought out 603 Storage. Improvements included an electronic security gate, e-mail billing, payment by check or online, and military discounts.
➤ Suncook River Convenience Store Total Makeover – July 2019
After plans to build a new store next to the Catamount Mobile Home Park were thwarted by the NH DOT last year, the tenant purchased the current store. Starting in late February 2019, the new owner began extensive renovations of the store, which include a brand new, expanded kitchen and walk-in cooler for preparing take-out orders like pizza, subs, and crispy chicken for its loyal customer base. The exterior was completely refinished with new clapboards, entrance doors, and windows.
The store held a Grand Opening on Friday July 12, 2019. Since then business has noticeably improved.
The EDC is working in collaboration with the Selectmen on several initiatives that complement its Economic Development projects. These initiatives are activities that do not directly promote economic development. Instead, they are designed to encourage residents and visitors to enjoy what Allenstown has to offer.
➤ Town Welcome Banners
To spruce up the town and make it more festive looking, in December 2020, the EDC purchased several 24 inch x 48 inch, double-sided "Welcome to Allenstown" banners.
These banners feature our own lovable bears who are welcoming travellers at the main entrances to town.
These are to be installed in May 2021 on utility poles at the local entrances to town such as North and South Main St., New Rye Rd., Deerfield Rd., and Mt. Delight Rd. at some public buildings.
A sample banner has already been flying in front of town hall.
In the summer of 2020, the EDC received permission from Eversource to install American flags on School St. and Main St. Several flags were then purchased and the Highway Dept. installed them, for which the EDC is grateful. Eversource limits such displays to a six-month period, typically from May to November.
The American flags were purposely installed on poles with street lights, since the Flag Code specifies that the flag is to be illuminated at night.
After installing the initial set of flags, it was decided that more flags were needed to fill in several gaps. These were then purchased last Fall and will be installed in the Spring of 2021.
Early in 2020, the EDC was contacted by Concord for Hometown Heroes, a non-profit NH organization whose mission has been to honor our veterans by encouraging relatives of those veterans to sponsor banners. The one to the right was the first such banner.
As with the American flags, Eversource allows these to fly on their utility poles from May to November only. The EDC was honored this Fall when the Hooksett Rotary offered to sponsor our fourth banner, which was completed in December 2020.
In the Spring of 2020, to resolve the problem that the state park, which occupies half the town, could not/would not offer town residents free or reduced rate passes, the EDC and the Town Library joined forces to purchase a few reduced rate season passes.
These were made available to residents at the Town Library on a daily basis, first-come-first-served. Since the Library is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays only, residents needed to obtain a day pass ahead of the desired date.
Note that residents 5 and younger and 65 and older are admitted free of charge.
With the Wuhan Coronavirus swirling around, it was necessary to postpone the first concert of 2020 from May until July. The EDC reviewed the current state guidelines and took the necessary precautions, which included chalking off six-foot squares on the town lawn and instructing people to sit checkerboard style to keep their distance. Masks and hand sanitizer were also made available.
To enhance the event, the Fire Department offered to operate a food concession, which attendees appreciated. As a surprise to all attendees, a vintage 1950s Ice Cream Truck pulled into the parking lot and was quickly surrounded by eager young people.
Green Heron, a local Bluegrass duo, took us on a melodic journey through bluegrass, folk, country, and Americana music, including many of their own compositions. The audience enjoyed their performance, and there were no negative reports after the fact, so a second concert was planned.
In mid-September, Crazy Steve and Friends, a local rock band who put on a fine concert for us last summer, was invited back for this second concert of the year. Everyone enjoyed their mix of pop and rock music. Some people even started dancing in place.
Once again, the Fire Department offered to operate a food concession.
In the summer of 2020, the EDC began designing a self-guiding booklet that would highlight numerous historic homes and buildings in downtown Allenstown.
It is to consist of facing pages of old historic photos opposite photos of those sites today. Interesting commentary is to be included to educate the reader about the history of those sites.
The self-guided tour is designed to start near Town Hall and end at the Boat Launch at the Merrimack River. In addition to the educational aspect of the tour, it provides good exercise. You can either walk or ride your bike.
Photos and commentary are courtesy of Carol Martel's excellent history, Suncook Village, as well as old photos and commentary provided by Roland and Claudette Verville of the Allenstown Historical Society.
In October 2019, the renovated Boat Launch at the bottom of Ferry Street was dedicated to the memory of Road Agent Ronnie Pelissier who died the preceding May. Since then, EDC members have discussed improvements to make the site into a more inviting place.
In 2021, the Highway Department is contemplating clearing some of the overgrowth while the EDC is looking into installing picnic benches and freestanding charcoal grills.
In May 2020, the town administrator brought up the idea of developing a drive-in movie. He investigated the equipment needed (a large inflatable screen, digital projector, sound system, low-power FM transmitter, equipment stands). In early June this proposal was discussed at a Selectmen's meeting where they approved using funds from the Parks & Recreation Fund. After the equipment arrived, there were discussions with Allenstown Aggregate about using their property. In August, a few trial runs were done at town hall. On Saturday night, Sept. 26, it all came together when residents were treated to a showing of "The Goonies" on a 20-foot screen in front of town hall.
In October 2020, the EDC sponsored the first ever Halloween Lighting Contest. People were already decorating their homes and lawns, so to make the season more fun, the EDC organized this contest. At the Awards Ceremony held outside Town Hall, a few dozen people braved the chilly weather to find out who won the prizes.
Fast on the heels of the Halloween Lighting Contest, the EDC quickly organized this next contest which offered first, second, and third place prizes for best house and best lawn. To improve participation, homeowners were required to send in a photo of their lighting displays, which were then posted on the town web site for all to see.
With temps barely in the low 30s, a small group attended the Awards Ceremony at Town Hall on Dec. 21st. The Town Administrator even set up a Facebook Live recording of the event.
With the lessons learned from these two lighting contest, the EDC is sure to host them again at the end of this year.
Early in 2020, small parcels of land below the elementary school became available along what was the old B&M rail line. The EDC and the BOS had been looking for land to connect a rail trail to Hooksett on the south and to Pembroke on the north.
Initially there were two parcels of prime interest but after several BOS discussions, the seller wanted to sell a third parcel as a package deal. At their Nov. 16 meeting, the selectmen approved the purchase of all three parcels (lots 114-001, 115-001, and 113-042).
On the map, lots 212 and 224 total 14 acres and belong to the school district. Lot 224 has a right of way to Ferry St. that was once part of the Suncook Valley Railroad.