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Office Space Proposed  In Hartford

Developer Pitches Building Along Connecticut River

An architect's rendering of a proposed White River Junction office building along the Connecticut River. (Courtesy UK Architects)

An architect's rendering of a proposed White River Junction office building along the Connecticut River. (Courtesy UK Architects)

White River Junction — An established Vermont developer is proposing to build a new $8 million office complex alongside the Connecticut River in White River Junction that would be occupied in part by state and federal offices.

Project developer Steve Morton, of Williston, Vt.-based DEW Properties, along with five design team members, presented plans for a 38,600-square-foot, four-story office building on Prospect Street to the town Planning Commission this week.

The structure — which would be across Route 4 from the Listen at River Point building — would have tenants including the Department of Motor Vehicles, the State’s Attorneys Office and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, according to the proposal.

The building would be a distinctive presence greeting motorists as they cross the bridge from West Lebanon, proponents said.

“This project really is a first impression as you are coming into the town of Hartford,” Morton told commission members.

The site would be landscaped with trees and shrubbery, include a widened street with parking for 134 vehicles, concrete sidewalks, granite curbs and a river walk for pedestrians with a six-foot gravel path that runs along the Connecticut River, according to renderings shown at the meeting.

“It will make for a wonderful ‘gateway’ to Vermont project,” Town Manager Hunter Rieseberg said in an email. “We are thrilled that all of the affected employees will be moving closer to our ‘downtown,’ ” he added.

The proposed site is occupied by large warehouse-style structures and two vacant apartment buildings that would all be razed if the project receives the go-ahead.

DEW Properties, which has offices in Hanover and Keene, N.H., acquired the parcel from Prospect Street Properties II Inc., of White River Junction. The development site, which encompasses six acres across seven lots, would be subdivided into four lots. The project presented at Monday’s Planning Commission meeting would occupy the largest parcel, which would be about four acres.

“They (the developer) are going to re-configure the lots,” said Zoning Administrator Jo-Ann Ells, noting that the adjustment is being done at the developer’s behest to accommodate its plans for the site.

The town of Hartford received the project plans from the involved parties on July 1. The subdivision plans and those relating to the first phase of construction will be discussed again at the commission’s Aug. 26 meeting. No residents were present at Monday night’s public hearing for either of the two items.

According to the proposal, the State’s Attorneys Office will occupy 2,714 square feet of the office building and the DMV would use 1,255 square feet. There also would be space for six offices for Veteran’s Affairs.

Ells said the project has hit a few hurdles along the way, including traffic.

“They’re typical things that hadn’t been ironed out yet,” Ells said.

Morton, the developer, said the improvements to the intersection of Route 4 and Prospect Street have also taken time to develop because of the involvement of so many parties. Alongside the proposed office building site is another significant redevelopment project. Prospect Street is the first right after the West Lebanon bridge, which New Hampshire Department of Transportation officials plan to rebuild by October 2015.

Morton said once the first phase of the Prospect Street development project begins — which he hopes will be this fall — he expects construction of the office building would take one year to complete.

Plans call for eventually developing the other three lots. Preliminary sketches show office or retail buildings on each of the three lots, but no formal plans for the remaining property have been presented to the commission.

The estimated $8 million cost covers only the first phase of the development plan, which includes the office building, roadway improvements, river walk and much of the site work, Morton said, and encompasses about two-thirds of the land that DEW has acquired.

The project still needs to be voted on by the town’s Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Adjustment and Selectboard before it can move forward, but Planning Commission Chairman Bruce Riddle was optimistic about its fate.

“If I was a betting man I would think it’s going to happen,” said Riddle. “I don’t see a show stopper out on the horizon.”

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.