Jul 26, 2014

Wright Avenue to Break Ground This Spring?

Steve Kelm said the State Street development will feature two retailers and up to 15 residential units when finished in 2014.

Wright Avenue to Break Ground This Spring? Wright Avenue to Break Ground This Spring?

Steve Kelm understands why his proposed Wright Avenue project on State Street has drawn so much scrutiny.

When the new Memorial Bridge is completed in July and he constructs the new upscale building that will house two retailers and up to 15 luxury units, it will serve as one of the city's new gateways.

On Tuesday afternoon, he and John Chagnon of AMBIT Engineering of Portsmouth didn't encounter too many issues when they reviewed their plans again with the city's Technical Advisory Committee. Kelm believes they are moving much closer to public hearings with the Planning Board.

He said they hope to begin construction this spring or by early summer. He expects the building to be completed in 15 months. He has no plans to market the building for prospective retail tenants or condo owners while it is being constructed. He said the residential units will range in size from 1,100 to 3,000 square feet.

"Once it's approved and you start building, it will generate plenty of interest," Kelm said.

He also believes the Wright Avenue project design by Somma Studio on Bow Street has sufficiently addressed aesthetic concerns raised by members of the Historic District Commission and neighborhood residents.

"We've been in front of the Historic District Commission for a year and we've met all of their requirements into the building's design," Kelm said.

He is also confident he will have no trouble filling the new building with retail and residential owners because of its location close to the Portsmouth waterfront and the revitalized State Street neighborhood, which features several new businesses along with the soon to be reopened Rosa restaurant.

The project is located right next to the former Connie Bean Recreation Center, which was sold in December to Steven Wilson, owner of Hampshire Development Corp. in Exeter for $1.5 million during a live auction. Wilson has not made his redevelopment plans for that building fully known yet.

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