The March 25-31, 2016 issue of New England Real Estate Journal showcased TFM’s civil and structural engineering retail project, Ashley Furniture and Ashbrook Furniture as the “Featured Property of the Month” in the “Shopping Centers” section. Read the full story below, or click on the link for a pdf version. NEREJ March 25-31 2016 Feature of the Month
TFMoran designs new 68,000 s/f retail store site for Ashley Furniture and Ashbrook Furniture
Manchester, NH – AAA Realty, LLC is pleased to announce the recent opening of a new Ashley Furniture and Ashbrook Furniture retail showroom in Manchester, located on 5 Driving Park Road, behind Wendy’s in the heart of the South Willow Street retail district. The new furniture showroom carries a wide selection of living room, dining room, bedroom, and home office furniture. Ashley Furniture is the largest furniture manufacturer in the world, according to the company’s website.
TFMoran, Inc., a local full-service engineering firm, helped obtain the approvals for the new facility, and provided civil/site engineering, structural engineering, land surveying, permitting and landscape architecture for the new 2-story 68,000sf furniture showroom. The building was designed by Landry Architects of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and constructed by TRB Development Group of Hooksett.
During the past several years, many large furniture stores in the Queen City have closed their doors. This new major furniture outlet reverses that trend, and, according to the developer, will establish a choice in furniture sales, “Ashley Furniture Industries feels that every person deserves more value for their money”. Established in 1945, Ashley is one of the largest manufacturers of home furnishings in the world. “Ashley is committed to delivering the world’s best home furnishing values, selection and service, and earning the loyalty and trust of its customers every day.”
The 2.7 acre Driving Park Road site, originally zoned for industrial use, had been abandoned since a fire destroyed a former health club on the site, leaving behind a 9,600 square foot medical clinic. Several years ago, the site was rezoned to the B-2 General Business District, more in keeping with the retail uses on neighboring South Willow Street. Just to the north of the site, a former Osram Sylvania manufacturing plant has also recently closed, and is slated for more future retail development.
Members of the City Planning Board agreed that the new use for this blighted site was a good fit, and were pleased with the modern, attractive design. According to TFMoran’s project manager Chris Rice, “the site plan package for the new retail store was a perfect fit for the mixed-use character of this commercial neighborhood, with a Wendy’s restaurant in front, a major shopping plaza to the south, numerous banks, offices and small retail shops, and a City recreational field all within walking distance.”
Rice continued, “Fitting a major furniture store on less than 3 acres was a challenge. In addition to the building pad which was nearly one acre itself, we needed to provide adequate customer parking, and separate customer and truck circulation, loading docks, and fire access all around the building. To accomplish this, we had to go to the ZBA for a variance to allow 81% where 75% is required.”
On the other hand, according to Rice, the site did need to be made to conform to modern regulations for stormwater management: “Being a former industrial site, the property was crisscrossed with utilities with no stormwater treatment anywhere on the site. Yet we were able to find a drainage solution that worked around the existing infrastructure, and provided treatment facilities such that all surface runoff would go into an underground system and nothing would be released into nearby Nutt’s Pond. That is a major improvement in stormwater management, and we were therefore able to obtain an Alteration of Terrain permit through NHDES as part of the project.”
TFMoran President Robert Duval also commented on the environmental benefits of this project. “Redevelopment of blighted industrial sites makes good sense. Once difficult to permit, now most regulatory agencies and municipalities recognize that good planning and good environmental stewardship means encouraging flexible and creative solutions if redevelopment of existing properties is to be economically feasible.”
Duval continued, “Redevelopment sites can also offer certain economic advantages such as mature utilities and roadway networks needing little or no improvement, remoteness from sensitive natural habitats, and proximity to public transportation and other community services.” Former Chairman of the Planning Board Kevin McCue commended the applicant for their proposed development because this area had been blighted for a number of years.
We are very happy about this location, said a spokesperson for Ashley Furniture, “In less than 10 years, we have become the No. 1 selling furniture brand in the world and the No. 1 retailer of furniture and bedding in the United States. Our stores are located throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and Japan, and we are expanding domestically and abroad every day.”