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Four-Story Building Addition Sought in Hanover

  • The owner of the downtown Hanover building that houses Canoe Club and the Dartmouth Bookstore is proposing to add an extra fourth floor of office space and a ground-level parking garage. The 17,000-square-foot addition would cost about $3.6 million, the owner, Geoff Colla, estimates. (Courtesy UK Architects) Courtesy UK Architects

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/17/2017 12:31:47 AM
Modified: 10/17/2017 10:22:17 AM

Hanover — The owner of the downtown Hanover building that houses the Canoe Club restaurant and the Dartmouth Co-Op is seeking approval for a four-story rear addition that includes office space and a ground-level parking stack.

Construction of the 17,000-square-foot structure would cost roughly $3.6 million and could be complete by the end of 2018, according to town filings by Geoff Colla, principal and founder of Connecticut River Capital, which controls Bridgman Realty Trust, the entity that owns the building.

Neither Colla nor his contractors at the Hanover firm UK Architects could be reached on Monday for comment about the project.

In letters to town officials, they noted the limited space behind the Bridgman building, as the circa-1880 structure is known, and said they wished to add a 39-unit automated parking structure, plus two more handicapped-accessible spaces, to replace the parking taken up by the addition.

“It is clear that the access to the open area on the site is very limited,” Chris Kennedy, principal of UK Architects, told town officials in a September letter.

He added that “all effort will be made” to limit obstruction of the South Main Street sidewalk that passes the alley leading to the back lot.

“This is a very constrained site and an innovative fill-in project,” town planning staffers wrote in notes for a Planning Board meeting earlier this month.

As part of the site plan review for this project, the Planning Board is scheduled to meet at the Bridgman building today for a site visit at 4 p.m.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment in September granted the developers a special exception to allow a slightly increased height compared to the existing Bridgman building, saying in its decision that “the increase in height will not, in and of itself, impair a view or vista of outstanding distinction.”

Business and property owners near the proposed building site expressed no objections to the project, but also noted the difficulty of making such expansions in Hanover’s cramped downtown.

Nigel Leeming, owner of Murphy’s on the Green, located in a nearby Main Street building, said he had heard of the project and supported it — “As long as they don’t put a restaurant there,” he added with a laugh.

Leeming said he welcomed development that made limited space in downtown Hanover more efficiently used.

“I’m a progress guy,” he said. “Any good progress, well planned, is good.”

Jay Campion, co-owner of the neighboring building that contains the Dartmouth Bookstore, said he had no objections to the project.

He did, however, raise concerns with town policies that require developers to replace parking spaces within the parcels they build on, rather than allow builders to use a “credit” system under which they could pay for the town to build spaces elsewhere.

“Anything would be better than sacrificing Main Street, downtown square footage to parking cars,” Campion said, noting that the proposed building’s parking stack could instead have been used to provide space for more offices.

Rob Wolfe can be reached at or at 603-727-3242.

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