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Lebanon OKs Route 120 Project

Lebanon — Following a lengthy review process, the Planning Board on Tuesday night unanimously approved the second and final phase of Altaria, a major commercial project on Route 120 that developers have characterized as an “extension” to the Centerra business park.

Plans call for the development to stretch across 65 acres and include a four-story, 120-room hotel, nearly 42,400 square feet of retail space, 336,000 square feet of industrial office space and 154 condominiums.

The Planning Board and Peter Knights, the developer behind Altaria, went back and forth Tuesday night over a paved pedestrian and bicycle path, the last substantial issue to be resolved.

City officials came into Tuesday night’s meeting with a new request: that the path be widened from eight to 10 feet and include access to neighboring Centerra as well as connect to a crosswalk across Route 120 leading to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Knights noted that the board’s proposal would substantially raise the price tag of the path, beyond the developer’s contribution, which is capped at $150,000 as per an earlier agreement.

“If the city doesn’t budget to add in (its portion of the cost), then I’m stalled in my project and it’s a condition that I might not be able to satisfy if the city can’t bring in the money,” Knights said. “There are just open ends to this thing that bother me.”

The board agreed to modify the condition of approval outlining construction of the path to indicate that a certificate of occupancy would not be contingent upon completion of the path, clearing the way for the board’s final approval of the project. It did not modify the request for the path to be widened and lengthened.

Phase one of the project, approved in September 2011, is already under construction. That portion of the project is spread out over about 15 acres and includes the hotel, the retail space, 96,000 square-feet of office space, and 34 residential units in mixed use buildings.

Altaria will join two other major developments that have received planning approvals but are not yet constructed: River Park between Route 10 and the Connecticut River in West Lebanon, which was recently granted an extension from the Planning Board as the developer negotiates with state officials over improvements to Route 10; and Iron Horse Park, which has had 10 industrial lots approved but has not yet received approvals for its commercial lot and two office lots.

Ben Conarck can be reached at bconarck@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.