Miracle Mile Development Would Bring New Retailer
Sarah Richardson of Pawlet, Vt., loads her purchases into the bed of her truck outside the Tractor Supply store in Claremont, N.H., on Jan 29, 2014. An additional store is being planned on the Miracle Mile in Lebanon, N.H..
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Lebanon — The owners of the Miracle Mile Plaza are seeking approval from the Planning Board to build a big-box feed store on a site between the plaza and the Timken Associates manufacturing plant.
The project, which will be the subject of a Planning Board public hearing on Feb. 10, calls for the The Richmond Co., a Massachusetts-based retail developer, to replace the existing D&B Outdoor Power Equipment store of 15,000 square feet with a 19,000-square-foot Tractor Supply Co. store.
The chain sells products ranging from power equipment and farm supplies to outdoor clothing and pet food, and also does vehicle maintenance and welding.
According to its website, the Brentwood, Tenn.-based Tractor Supply has 15 stores in New Hampshire — the nearest in Claremont, Walpole and Plymouth — and six in Vermont, among them Montpelier. Founded in 1938 as a mail-order supply store in North Dakota, it now operates more than 1,000 stores in 38 states.
“The demographics and the existing retail environment in the area are similar to markets that (Tractor Supply managers) tend to look at,” The Richmond Co. President Philip Pastan said on Wednesday. “They look for regional markets in somewhat rural areas. We were delighted that this is one of the areas they looked at.”
Curt Jacques, co-owner of the West Lebanon Feed and Supply store about two miles away, expressed something short of delight upon learning of the Tractor Supply plan on Wednesday. He also shrugged off the idea of panicking over the competition.
“In the short term, I imagine they’ll take away some of our business, in products that we both sell, like pet food and seed,” Jacques said. “In the long term, we’ll get it back. The difference between a company like that and a small business like ours is really night and day. The knowledge that our staff has, versus a lot of these box-store feed stores, is that we’re more in tune to the needs of the community. We have our fingers on the pulse of the community in a way that a company based in Tennessee couldn’t. It’s not something that we’re concerned about.”
For the city’s part, concerns about the project include the location of the site set back from the Miracle Mile, at the end of a right-of-way that requires drivers to turn between a convenience store fronting on the main road and the Timken property.
“When we did the (preliminary) site review, the police and others had questions about the additional traffic that might be generated, and the location of the access point,” Lebanon senior planner David Brooks said on Wednesday. “If this new use generates a lot more traffic, the sight lines comply (with New Hampshire Department of Transportation regulations), but they’re not terrific. Coming from the west, they’re at the crest of the rise. The center (turning) lane there helps, but vehicles in there can block the visibility of someone trying to turn left out of the driveway.”
Engineers working for The Richmond Co. are preparing a plan for improving the intersection, including “off-site striping to further define access and egress,” James E. Hanley of Civil Design Consultants wrote to the city Planning Department after the preliminary site review.
“There’s a good, visible approach to the site,” Pastan added. “It’s a destination use, not an impulse-shopping use, so people aren’t going to suddenly turn there when they all of a sudden realize, ‘Oh, there’s a Tractor Supply.’ ”
The tenant of the existing building, D & B Outdoor Power Equipment, is negotiating to move into a new site in Lebanon, D & B’s Bruce Maville said on Wednesday.
The Richmond Co. develops stores for the Stop & Shop chain of supermarkets, which is listed as the technical owner of the property. Pastan said that Stop & Shop has no plan to establish one of its superstores there.
“The Price Chopper (supermarket in the neighoboring Miracle Mile Plaza) has a long-term lease,” Pastan continued. “They’re performing really well there.”
Pastan said that his group plans to complete work on the Miracle Mile Plaza parking lot and “bring the facades of all the different buildings up to one standard look in the spring.”
He added that if the Tractor Supply project wins approval, “the projected opening is in the fall of 2014.”
David Corriveau can be reached at email@example.com and at 603-727-3304.