Dover NH Cochecho waterfront project takes a big step forward

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DOVER – A large mixed-use development planned to bring housing, restaurants and commercial space to the city’s waterfront is now moving forward.

The city committee that has helped organize Cochecho’s waterfront vision for nearly two decades gave the green light to project development company Cathartes on Tuesday evening to have the project incorporated into the city’s planning process.

The development is slated to transform the downtown waterfront with five buildings comprising a total of 410 residential units – a combination of townhouses and condos, some for sale and some for rent. There are also plans for 28,000 square feet of retail space, which may include restaurants, retail stores and offices.

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“This is an important milestone for us,” said Rob Simmons, Cathartes project manager. “We are all very happy with the progress made by this project. We look forward to moving on to the site plan application and approval process.

Cathartes' vision for its Cochecho waterfront development comes to life with recently released renderings.

While the project has been in the making for three years for Cathartes, the idea for decades has been a dream of the leaders of Dover to revive this part of the river. The Cochecho Waterfront Advisory Committee was appointed in April 2004 to oversee the future of the waterfront. Before that, there were several other iterations of different committees dating back over two decades that shared a similar focus.

Dana Lynch, chair of the advisory committee, said the approval brings the project closer to fruition. When efforts to revitalize the area began, Lynch said the property was unsightly as the site housed the sewage treatment plant, the public works garage and abandoned vehicles for the police department. Lynch remembers calling the site “the janitor’s closet” across the river. While the site is mostly large piles of rocks at the moment, he said the committee is confident in the future of the site.

“Over the years Dover has changed a lot, the demographics of Dover have changed and Dover’s perspective as a community has changed towards the waterfront, but now we have a clear vision of what we want along from the waterfront, ”Lynch said. “This property will become a very dynamic and essential part of our downtown area. Instead of becoming a dividing line, the river will become a focal point. “

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A map created by Cathartes shows the layout of proposed buildings on the Cochecho River in Dover.

Square plans carved in stone

While there haven’t been any major changes to the project recently, Cathartes has finalized what the area of ​​the plaza will look like. Previously, they presented two options to the committee. The first system had a main passage, with a significant amount of landscaped screens at ground level, and the second option was raised with a few passages and nooks both on the raised sections and at ground level. Since reviews were divided on the two options, Cathartes combined the details of the two options to form a third option.

“We’re going to go for a hybrid of the two options,” Simmons said. “That way you don’t feel like it’s blocking you entirely from the main sidewalk, but it still opens up and captures you in an oasis, with different seating areas all over the place. This place design will look great and work great for the space.

The city’s waterfront park

The development will ultimately be built in coordination with Dover for the development of its riverside parks. A team of Cathartes worked closely with the city’s engineers and designers on utility and landscape plans, hoping to ensure that the project complements the city’s work on its design. riverside public park. Lynch said the park will become a “community gem” and the committee will work with the city to ensure it is kept to that standard. A panoramic view of the river, a kayak ramp, a public boat dock, and a building that will house restrooms, concession stands and a park maintenance warehouse are planned for the park.

The waterfront park and lodge were huge drivers of the project, with the ultimate vision for development serving as a link between some of Dover’s larger parks and recreation areas. A passable trail from the Children’s Museum in downtown New Hampshire would connect to Henry Law Park and Cochecho Waterfront Park, and diverge into walking trails along the river and to Maglaras Park.

“We want this project to be part of the fabric of the city,” Simmons said. “The increase in pedestrian and cycling activity along this area will really start to activate this area. The waterfront improvements will connect the fairly extensive walking trail.

Several leaders of local rowing and paddle sports teams attended Tuesday’s meeting, urging the committee and the promoter to remember that continued waterfront access is vital. Simmons said seeing community involvement reminds them “why it’s so important to get it right.” The committee passed a motion to ensure that representatives of these teams will continue to be involved and play an active role in the discussion going forward.

“It has been a great public-private partnership and a collaborative effort over the years,” said Simmons. “We would not be where we are today without this collaboration between the members of the committee, the city, the city planning council, the community and all the people who have expressed an interest in this site. to help define how it is going to be designed and how it comes out.

What happens next

The project is now moving to the next step: a review by the city’s technical review committee to initiate the process for applying and approving the Dover site plan.

If the proposal is approved by the technical review committee, it will be forwarded to the city planning council for further approval.

Cathartes' vision for its Cochecho waterfront development comes to life with recently released renderings.

Lynch said the work of the Cochecho Waterfront Advisory Committee is not done. He said the committee will remain involved with the project as it progresses and that it will remain an arbiter to represent the interests of the city and ensure that the waterfront vision remains a priority for all. the people involved.

“Instead of moving this project through the process, the Cochecho Waterfront Development Advisory Committee can now help push and guide it through the process,” Lynch said.

Cathartes has started the licensing process, and the city needs state permits finalized before it can build the road and utility infrastructure needed to start construction. Lynch and Simmons both hope that if the approvals progress as planned, it will be possible to innovate in 2022.

Because of the size and scope of the project, Lynch said, the project is somewhat of an anomaly compared to most projects that have gone through this process recently. Simmons said it was even difficult to compare this project timeline to that of their Orpheum mixed-use project in downtown Dover, due to the complexity and size. Both are hopeful and confident that the project will see continued momentum.

While the project does not have a date set for its first appearance on the technical review committee, Simmons said the developers plan to be on the agenda for the second committee meeting in October.


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