Plan NH’s first Villager of the Year is Arthur T. Demoulas

by Robin LeBlanc | Jan 30th, 2015 | Leave a comment

At the Midwinter Gathering held on January 29 at Three Chimneys Inn in Durham, Plan NH announced that its first Villager of the Year Award goes to Arthur T. Demoulas, who gained national recognition in Summer 2014 as the twenty-year battle for leadership at Demoulas Market Basket Supermarkets came to a head.

“There are shifts in thinking going on across the Granite State and the country,“ said Robin H. LeBlanc, Executive Director of Plan NH.  “One that we are seeing is a desire for community, for belonging – whether in the community where we live, or maybe the community of our church, school, our work …. Another shift we are seeing more of is from the notion that the economic bottom line trumps all – to the realization that the social and environmental bottom lines are often more significant, especially when thinking long-term.”

“Mr. Demoulas took a stand last summer for his community:  his workers and his customers.  He took a stand against the long-held belief that good business means profits come first, and maintained that employees and customers take priority.  The result was an unprecedented show of solidarity among all employees and all customers who together went on strike, held rallies and showed their absolute loyalty and support for Mr. Arthur T.  They revealed the community that was already there, and their actions made it even stronger.”

Accepting the award on Mr. Demoulas’ behalf was Supervisor of Operations Joe Schmidt, who himself started working in the family of supermarkets at age 14.  He recounted the tumultuous days of August and September, and concluded his remarks with a short video of images from across the New England states during that time.

What does density look like in New Hampshire?

by Robin LeBlanc | May 15th, 2014 | Leave a comment


The Greenfield (NH) Meeting Place earned a Visualizing Density Award in 2013
The Greenfield (NH) Meeting Place earned a Visualizing Density Award in 2013


Density, or compact design,  is a concept that is once again gaining traction across the country, including here in New Hampshire.

Basically, by putting buildings closer together, and/or including a mix of uses in one, open spaces may be preserved and  money can be  saved.  In downtowns, neighborhoods or other development,  density can also be achieved by infill – filling in spaces amongst what is already there, rather than, say, taking more open land.

We usually think of this as being a big-city or larger-town thing, but good examples exist in our smaller communities, too.   Think of Harrisville, or Center Ossipee:  in each, one can walk to different destinations.   The photo above is that of the Greenfield (NH) Meeting Place, with a little restaurant on the ground floor and living spaces above and around.

And this is not a new idea.  Most of our “traditional” New Hampshire and New England towns have relatively dense, or compact town centers and neighborhoods.

Plan NH and the NH Housing Finance Authority are continuing their partnership to identify good examples of density in towns of all sizes across the state.

Examples are compiled and are being entered into a database (in development) that will be available to anyone.  Developers, planners and residents alike will be able to see what well-planned density can look like here in New Hampshire.

We invite you to participate:  look around where you are.  Are there good examples of compact design?  It may be a new neighborhood or an older, established one.  You may have a town center where the Post Office, Library, and general store – and maybe even a school – are in close proximity.  Or you may live in an older neighborhood with houses close to each other.

Please, show us what you have found.  For more information and submission forms, go here


2014 Plan NH Merit Awards announced

by Robin LeBlanc | May 01st, 2014 | Leave a comment

Great examples of how the built environment can have a positive influence on a community are everywhere.  Each year, Plan NH recognizes outstanding examples from a field of submitted nominations. This year, five projects were given awards at a dinner and program held on April 2:

Honorable Mention:

Dearborn Memorial Building Manchester

Renovations to the Dearborn Memorial Building (Odd Fellows Hall) at 434 Lake Avenue in Manchester.

Built in 1908-9, this building, which has had several owners, housed the Odd Fellows Meeting Hall on the 4th floor while the bottom three have had numerous purposes through the years.  Interestingly, it is in a neighborhood not associated with the mills.  In 2010, the property was purchased by the City of Manchester, and was renovated for use by several human service agencies.  The Odd Fellows Meeting space on the top floor has been beautifully restored to much of its original look and feel.  Another Odd Fellows meeting room on the second floor was restored so that original features can still be seen.

The jury liked this project because the City took a vital lead in the restoration AND recognized the importance of having important services in the neighborhood most needing them.

Owner:  City of Manchester.  Key players:  CMK Architects, Milestone Engineering, Pilot Construction (Phase 1 renovations)


Memorial Bridge Portmsouth (re)Opending Day

Memorial Bridge Replacement Public Outreach and Involvement, Portsmouth NH.

The importance of communication between a project team and the community was significantly underscored during this important bridge-replacement project that was completed late last year.  McFarland Johnson facilitated daily interaction among project teams, the public and the media.  A special effort was made, through various means, to include those not usually involved in public dialogs and conversations.  Events, announcements and various forms of media were all used to keep the public apprised of developments, challenges and successes throughout the building process.

The jury felt that this is an outstanding example of the significance of including as many people as possible in a community undertaking, especially those who believe their voice is not usually heard.

Owner:  NHDOT and MDOT, Key players:  McFarland Johnson, HDR, and Archer Western Contractors.


Merit Awards

Endicott Hotel 03-2014

The Endicott Hotel,  Concord.

Prominently-located at the corner of Pleasant and South Main in the City of Concord, the building was erected in 1894 and was the first large commercial structure in the city on the main street but south of Pleasant and the first to be devoted completely for commercial use. During the second decade of the 20th century, the building was sold and  gradually became the Endicott Hotel.  Most of the time, the first floor remained commercial.

In 1994,  CATCH (a Concord-based non-profit which provides affordable and market-rate places to live) purchased The Endicott and through a series of smart relationships and decisions, redeveloped the property with market-rate living spaces above, and continued commercial opportunities on the ground floor.

The jury liked the idea of having choices for people to live in downtown Concord, which will contribute to the future vibrancy of our capitol city.  They also liked that this important structure was re-developed, rather than torn down, even after a fire created significant damage.  Finally, they were impressed with the thoughtful, comprehensive planning that went into this effort.

Owner:  CATCH Neighborhood Housing.  Key players:  CN Carley Associates, Steffenson Engineering, Nobis Engineering, Northway Bank, Cobb Hill Construction, Eclectica Design, Lavender and Lotus Interior Design, Renee Rucci Design and The Leading Edge Drapery.


Families in Transition Home Manchester

Families in Transition Lowell Street Addition and Historic Renovation, 136 Lowell Street, Manchester.

The scope of this work included demolition of a portion of an existing historic building and the construction of a three-story, 7700 SF addition in its place. The remaining portion of the original building underwent a complete renovation.  Built in 1846 in the Gothic Revival Style, the house had undergone many renovations and additions through the years, most recently in the 1970’s when it was a halfway house for boys.  Today, the property is a 12,300 sf facility that includes an administrator’s office, a common kitchen and dining area, and 17 units of transitional living space for homeless women and their families.

Not only was the jury impressed with the rehabilitation of the original house, and the large addition on the back which blends beautifully visually from the street, they recognized the great planning that went into this project.  The jury also liked the proximity to downtown and to public transportation.  Each juror agreed that Families in Transition is an important organization that deserves recognition, an organization that “gives voice and hope to those who have a limited voice.”

Owners:  Families in Transition and Great Bridge Properties.  Key players:  North Branch Construction, Burnell-Johnson Architects



Keene Railroad Land Development

Railroad Land Development, Keene

One block of Main Street in  downtown Keene, an old B&M railroad yard of 7+ (mostly brownfield ) acres  is now a site that includes a restaurant, hotel, offices, a Cheshire Medical Department, 8 condos, a food co-op, a 55-rooms of living spaces for seniors, and 24 living spaces for the work force.  With a bus stop, a bike path and walkable streets, the area is connected to the downtown and beyond.

The jury found this to be an outstanding example of compact, mixed-use development where it can make a real difference for the community.  They liked the integration of visual design and materials that reflect the rest of Keene, but stand alone as well.  Important, too, is that to live, work or play there, one does not necessarily need a car.

Owner:  Monadnock Economic Development.  Key players:  City of Keene, Daniel V. Scully Architects, George Hickey, Architect, CHA, SVE, Harvey Construction and Pro Con and Cheshire Builders.


 To find out more about Plan NH’s Merit Awards Program, go here.