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The Factory on Willow Featured in NHBR’s July “From the Ground Up”

The July issue of New Hampshire Business Review features The Factory on Willow in a special section “From the Ground Up”. TFMoran is proud to be a part of the project team with Eckman Construction and Market Square Architects. We invite you to check out the article by clicking this link or by reading the text below.

Congratulations to the Factory on Willow and the whole project team!


FROM THE GROUND UP: The Factory on Willow: ‘If you restore it, they will come’


Remember the movie, “Field of Dreams” with Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones? An Iowa farmer is summoned by voices from the Great Beyond to build a baseball stadium in his corn field. One of the most iconic lines that is now part of our popular culture is “If you build it, they will come.”

In the case of The Factory on Willow, the saying would be, “If you restore it, they will come” and inspire other investors to do the same with other properties in Manchester’s South End.

When Elizabeth “Liz” Hitchcock decided to purchase the former Cohas Shoe Factory on 252 Willow St. in 2019, she formulated a concept they knew would yield great dividends. Her plan was to restore the 90,000-square-foot factory into a mixed-use development where artists and gig professionals could live, work and enjoy everything that downtown Manchester has to offer while preserving the rich history of the mill that was constructed in 1904.

Preston Hunter, vice president of Eckman Construction Co. in Bedford and the project’s general contractor, explained the end result is a four-story complex that includes 61 studio apartments, commercial space, a food truck court and 16 Airbnb units to accommodate nurses and visiting high-tech workers. The Artist in Residence program also enables artists of all types to live and complete special projects at The Factory on Willow.

Hunter said the space also includes commercial uses that may eventually include a craft distillery, beer garden and office space. Loon Chocolate and 603 Charcuterie have already established thriving retail businesses there, and a large event space is available for rental.

“There are a lot of opportunities for different uses,” Hunter said.

In addition to the food truck patio, Hunter said an amphitheater is planned where live performances will be staged.

“We are in the process of creating a distillery on-site,” said Hunter, adding that it would consist of a free-standing building that would include a tasting room.

“We did create, in addition to the food truck patio, an area for residents who would like to have raised beds and grow some vegetable gardens and other plantings.”

Besides the amphitheater and additional landscaping that will take place throughout The Factory on Willow’s property, Hitchcock recently said she is banking on two transportation projects to spur growth in the South End and fuel greater success for The Factory on Willow. The first includes a $25 million federal RAISE grant that will be used to create a new roadway with a bridge and pedestrian bike access near the intersection of South Willow St. and Queen City Ave. along with a pedestrian bridge over Granite Street. The second is the completion of the South Manchester Rail Trail that runs directly behind The Factory on Willow. The rail trail is part of a much larger network that will eventually run from Goffstown to the Seacoast. When completed, both projects will offer improved access to the South End.

Hunter said that Hitchcock’s vision was to create a living space where art would be promoted and celebrated as well as integrated into the surrounding community.

Hitchcock also selected items to be featured in the building to display its rich history, including the original wood and glass doors, cast iron boiler arch doors and a wooden beam that has been repurposed into a bench in the lobby.

Adam Wagner, owner of Market Square Architects in Portsmouth, played an instrumental role to help Hitchcock transform her vision into a dynamic design that incorporates the mill’s rustic red brick walls and timber frames in the building’s open-air studio apartments. Orbit Group with visiting designers created the furnished Airbnb units so they will appeal to the targeted demographic of artists and gig economy workers.

“What’s unique about this project is residents are looking for more than just cookie-cutter apartments. They want to be part of a community,” Hunter said. “It is set up to be a real live-work studio experience.”

By combining a millennial-style, live-work experience and the history of the former McElwain Shoe Factory, Hunter believes that Hitchcock succeeded with all of her goals.

Hunter’s family also has a direct link to the mill’s storied past.

“My mother-in-law worked in the shoe factory when she was a teenager,” he said.

The two-year project that began in 2019 was completed in March 2021 when the first residents moved into the building, Hunter said.

All of this was happening during the Covid-19 pandemic. “We were able to keep the job site running throughout the pandemic,” Hunter explained.

Hunter pointed out the process to transform the once abandoned factory into its current use was a challenging one. “It is important to remember that this building was a collection of additions that had been tacked on to the original mill building over the decades as the use had changed and it presented a lot of complications and challenges from a design standpoint,” he said.

They partnered with Market Square Architects to deal with those challenges. TFMoran, the structural engineer out of Bedford, played a key role in helping them evaluate the structure of the building and the additions, Hunter said.

“We determined as a team that some of the newer additions were functionally obsolete. We ended up demolishing some portions of the building that were not part of the original mill building that was bult in 1904,” Hunter said.

“We brought the building back to its original form. That allowed us to keep what was best about the building and remove the portions that didn’t add any value. We also exposed portions of the building that hadn’t seen the light of day for a very long time,” Hunter explained.
He noted the project included a lot of masonry restoration. He said there is a tower that was part of the original mill complex that was restored. There was also a great deal of masonry undertaken on the outside and inside of the building.

He said the building also had a timber frame that was showing its age. “The structural engineer evaluated every beam and every column after we had opened and exposed everything to identify the ones that needed to be re-supported.”
Like many mill restoration projects, this one also required its share of environmental remediation.

“The building also did contain some asbestos and lead paint, which had been sort of buried under multiple layers of flooring. We had to remove all of the hazardous materials and everything was disposed of to create a clean environment, so we could start essentially with a clean slate,” Hunter said.

Hunter said the site was also home to a former underground oil storage tank that had failed 50 years ago. The tank had leaked its heating oil, and it was a managed site by the state Department of Environmental Protection. In most cases, developers might leave it alone and pave over it. But Hitchcock decided it was best to remove the contaminated soil and clean up the site with fresh soil. The building and site were then completely cleaned out and restored to their original state.

“The team really put the time and the effort in to understand the unique quirks of the building as much as possible before we started construction. The building really has great bones, and the design goal was to really showcase the existing qualities as much as possible,” Hunter said.

Some of the other improvements included two new stairwells to meet new egress requirements for the apartments on both ends of the building floor to floor. The building was also designed to provide fresh air to every apartment and common space in the building. New windows were installed throughout the building with beautiful black frames that are historically accurate and provide great natural light throughout.

“It is also an investment in the southern part of the city. There has been a lot of redevelopment in the Millyard, the North End and downtown. This project is the first to recognize there is great opportunity in the South End of Manchester. It has created a bit of a destination onto itself by having all those amenities. It will also create an opportunity for development in this part of the city as the need for housing continues to grow,” Hunter said.

The team’s collective efforts to create a new crown jewel in Manchester has also gained recognition from Plan NH, which awarded the project a merit award in June.

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TFM Celebrates Friday with a Party and Cornhole Tournament!

TFM Bedford enjoyed a TGIF on Friday, July 15 with food, drinks, and a visit from the Kona Ice truck! The cornhole boards were set up with a bracket of randomized teams, which faced off against each other to claim the $15 gift card prizes and bragging rights. Friends and families joined us for a fun-filled afternoon, and the official champions of the tournament were COO Dylan Cruess and Civil Engineer Intern, Ben Hodsdon.

Thank you to everyone who helped out, and congrats to this year’s winners!

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TFM Enjoys a Night Out at the NH Fisher Cats!

TFMoran friends and family gathered at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium on Friday, July 8 for a Baseball game! The New Hampshire Fisher Cats played against the Hartford Yard Goats, winning with a final score of 6-2! Throughout the night burgers, hot dogs, and drinks were served. Fungo, the Fisher Cat’s mascot, also made an appearance. Those with a sweet tooth enjoyed an ice cream sundae for dessert, provided by the Fisher Cats’ party deck crew on a make-your-own sundae cart. After the game, attendees got the opportunity to test their throws, aiming for targets on the playing field. Although we had a couple of fantastic pitches, we didn’t hit the target.

Thank you TFMoran Principals for this fun company outing!

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TFMoran Promotes Healthy Living Through “The Wellness Project”

The Wellness Project is a series of Lunch & Learns held once a month to teach staff how to incorporate healthy choices into our lives. Sessions are held monthly, and cover a variety of topics from finance to nutrition and fitness! Three sessions have been held so far, and the series will continue into the new year.

Session 1 – How Money Works & Budgeting for Success
The first session was held in November, with a focus on finance and budgeting. Attendees enjoyed sandwiches and cookies from Market Basket while listening to Sara Janes Hoag of Primerica. Sara Janes presented “How Money Works”, which taught us about the Rule of 72, Mutual funds, the “3D’s” of successful investing, and more. She also touched upon “Budgeting for Success”, covering the 6 simple steps to help us create a budget and free up money in the future. These topics, once understood and applied, can have an incredible impact on employees’ personal finances!

Session 2 – The Road Back to Wellbeing
Amy Perez, ACC, CPC of Amy Perez Coaching joined us to learn how to take care of ourselves, and our family when we’re not feeling 100%. Emotional drainage and zoom fatigues have been impacting our office and social lives. Amy showed us how to get back out there – even if it is overwhelming. Through this session, we gained resources for the emotional well-being of all ages!

Session 3 – The Carb Addiction & Blue Zones
Courtney Eaton, RDN, LDN of New England Nutrition Advisors joined us to discuss “The Carb Addiction”. In her presentation, she gave us some insight into the good and the bad so that we are able to navigate the complicated world of carbs. Courtney also presented about Blue Zones, the 5 geographic pockets of the world where the improved quality of life helps its residents live longer. By implementing a few wellness practices, these people are experiencing amazing health outcomes and saving money on healthcare! Courtney showed us a few things that we could do to improve the length and quality of our lives.

Session 4 – Estate Planning and Myths
Megan Martucci, Esq. of Feniger & Uliasz, LLP joined us to learn the basics of estate planning and how proper planning can give us the confidence and peace of mind that our families are taken care of in the future. She also discussed myths surrounding estate planning and how to avoid probate. Megan pulled back the veil of what estate planning entails, how the probate process works and how it can be avoided, and covered some of the consequences of not having an estate plan in place.

Session 5 – Investing for Retirement and Social Security
Sara Janes Hoag of Primerica joined us once again to present the do’s and don’ts of investing for retirement. Her workshop covered the types of savings accounts we need, retirement savings strategies, the power of compound interest, tax-deferred vs. taxable investments, the cost of waiting to save, and more. Sara Janes also covered Social Security to give us a better understanding of Social Security benefits, other factors that may impact these benefits and taxation.

Session 6 – Musculoskeletal Health
Tom Fontana of Family Physical Therapy Services joined us to discuss musculoskeletal pain and prevention. We learned about the positions we hold and movements we make that affect our backs, and how to defend ourselves against pain by making our movements more efficient, safer, and pain-free. Tom also covered core strengthening and balance training to maximize performance. The secret is having a strong core – which includes everything from your hips to your shoulders!

Session 7 – Physical Fitness – Running Form
Matt Harris of Runner’s Alley joined us in the Bedford office to perform a running form clinic! Matt took us through the 4 main points of running with good form to achieve maximum efficiency and comfort. He also taught us about the technology behind athletic footwear, and how to find the right fit!

Session 8 – Stress: Adapt or Perish
Dr. Phil Szalowski of Broadway Chiropractic joined us to discuss the effects of negative stress on our bodies and how to combat it. Participants made goals of how they can integrate exercise and other wellness practices into their daily routine, which will help with how they respond and react to stress.

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TFMoran Welcomes Bowman as Summer Intern

Julia Bowman has joined TFMoran, Inc. as a Stormwater Engineering Intern for Summer 2022. Ms. Bowman is currently studying Environmental Engineering at the University of New Hampshire. Bowman has previous work experience as an Undergraduate Research Assistant at UNH, creating control charts for southern New Hampshire towns to monitor chemicals in drinking water.

Welcome to the team, Julia!

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Benjamin Hodsdon joins TFMoran as a Civil Engineering Summer Intern

Benjamin Hodsdon has returned to TFMoran’s Civil Engineering Department as an intern for the summer of 2022. Mr. Hodsdon joined us last summer as part of our internship program, and we’re happy to have him back! He is working in both the Bedford office and the Portsmouth office. Ben is in the Honors Program at the University of New Hampshire, working towards his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering, Class of 2023.

Welcome back, Ben!

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TFMoran Joins Plan NH

TFMoran has joined Plan NH, an organization dedicated to creating vibrant communities across the state of New Hampshire. Members include planners, builders, designers, or anyone who cares for the built environment and community design and their impact on towns and neighborhoods.

Each year, Plan NH holds its annual Merit Award Program to honor exemplary built environment projects that have a positive impact on the community. TFMoran has been honored to be a part of the winning project team for the Bank of NH Stage, which received a 2020 Merit Award of Excellence.

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TFMoran Hosts 2022 NHCIBOR Awards BBQ

TFMoran hosted the New Hampshire Commercial Investment Board of REALTORS® barbecue on Thursday, June 9th at the Bedford office. After a rainy morning and an afternoon shower, the weather cooperated and was ideal for an outdoor event. Over one hundred CIBOR members and TFMoran staff enjoyed the cookout, which featured a buffet provided by Tidewater Catering, and ice cream by The Inside Scoop. TFMoran has been hosting the annual NH CIBOR cookout for over 16 years! It was great to get back to business after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. TFMoran is proud to partner with CIBOR each year for such a great event.

Dylan Cruess, TFM’s COO, started out the presentation by welcoming the members and thanking the TFM staff for their efforts in making the barbecue a success. NH CIBOR president Scott Forte presented Joe Friedman of Skyline Realty, LLC with the REALTOR-of-the-Year award, and Jeremy Forest of Bridges Bros Movers with the Affiliate-of-the Year award. Additional raffle items were also presented.

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TFMoran Receives 2022 SENH Excellence in Structural Engineering Award

The Structural Engineers of New Hampshire (SENH) recently held their 2022 Excellence In Structural Engineering Awards event on May 18th!

Entries were judged on creativity, complexity, innovation, ingenuity, and suitability of the structural design for each of three categories; Building Structures, Bridge & Transportation Structures, and Special Structures.

TFMoran was honored to receive the award in the Building Structures category for the Nashawtuc Country Club renovation and addition in Concord, MA.

Posters of each entry were on display during the meeting. Click on the pdf link to view TFMoran’s Poster or read the description below to learn more:

Nashawtuc Country Club located in Concord, MA is the site of complete renovation and addition to an existing country club community building totaling 40,000 square feet. The addition includes a new restaurant, recreation, and function spaces, including a grand ballroom with architecturally exposed steel trusses. Renovations included repairs, reconfiguration of column locations, support of new mechanical equipment, and a complete lateral load resisting systems upgrade. The existing building was comprised of a variety of framing systems and materials while the new additions were comprised of a hybrid graming system of wood and steel framing.

Congratulations to all award recipients!

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Dylan Cruess Featured in NEREJ Industry Leaders Spotlight

New England Real Estate Journal’s May 27th issue features an Industry Leaders Spotlight with 11 professionals from numerous industries, including TFMoran’s Chief Operating Officer, Dylan Cruess. Dylan gives his perspective on how the first half of 2022 is going in the engineering field. Check out the full article here or continue reading below.


Despite Economic Challenges, Development Remains Resilient

New England Real Estate Journal
Industry Leaders Spotlight – Engineer

This has been quite a year thus far!  I started my article off last year with the exact same sentiment.  Many of the same growth factors and uncertainties from last year are still present now.  Despite many economic challenges we are experiencing, including the continued rise of construction costs, the availability of building materials, and now rising interest rates, development in Southern New Hampshire and Northern Massachusetts remains incredibly strong and resilient. The pent-up demand from not building during the height of the pandemic, changing consumer demand for housing and entertainment, and the large amount of private and public capital available in the market has fueled new developments in just about every sector. 

Over the past few years, New Hampshire has seen a huge in-migration of the population as people have moved out of major cities seeking a more rural or suburban lifestyle.  This in-migration population has caused the demand for housing and other services to increase, which in turn has led to a huge increase in new multifamily and single-family housing developments throughout the southern part of the state and the upper valley.  Northern New Hampshire has also seen an incredible increase in demand as people are purchasing second homes.  Along with increased housing demand, we are seeing rapidly rising housing and rent prices which are leading to an affordability crisis for many people.  In New Hampshire, there is a very strong push for affordable housing projects and there are many available sources of public funding to help with the economic viability of having below-market rental rates.

Another sector that we continue to see very strong demand for in New Hampshire is warehouse and manufacturing projects.  International supply chain problems have led to a noticeable trend of companies bringing their distribution, product storage, and even their manufacturing back to the United States, and more specifically New Hampshire.  We are seeing new facilities being proposed across many different sectors including aerospace, defense, construction materials, and food processing, among others.  Warehouse and manufacturing projects often require infrastructure improvements such as increased electric capacity or the availability of municipal water and sewer. These requirements may limit where facilities can be located, resulting in projects concentrated around the suburbs close to larger municipalities that already have the necessary infrastructure in place.

From a design and permitting point of view, one of the largest challenges we are seeing to development projects moving forward is the unpredictable length of time it will take to obtain all the necessary permits.  We are often asked by our clients how long it will take to go through the permitting process so they can set timeframes in their Purchase and Sale Agreements or plan for construction. With new environmental regulations for wetlands impacts and stormwater runoff requirements, we are often unable to give a definitive timeline for permits.  We have been recommending to our clients that they substantially increase the time for permitting or have multiple extension provisions in their contracts with Sellers to mitigate the impact of permitting delays. 

In conclusion, even with the many economic uncertainties the economy is facing including inflation, rising interest rates, and supply chain disruptions for construction materials, we continue to see very strong activity for development projects going forward across many different sectors of the economy.  The demand for new housing, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and other projects continues to be greater than the uncertainties and challenges that developers are facing when considering new projects.  Hopefully, this trend continues through all of 2022 and beyond!