EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 21, 2013

Salem board to consider big projects

By Doug Ireland

---- — SALEM — Tough economic times have taken a toll on Southern New Hampshire communities in recent years, leading to many empty storefronts.

But Salem is making a comeback, attracting new businesses and spurring economic development. So, when the town’s Planning Board meets Tuesday at 7 p.m., it will have a full slate of projects to consider — a sign of a revitalized business community.

Town Planning Director Ross Moldoff said board will consider proposals for a 22,000-square-foot retail plaza, a four-story office building and the newest project — a kidney dialysis center.

The dialysis center is proposed by Fresenius Medical Care North America, which is working with the property owner, Brooks Properties, to bring the facility to 19 Keewaydin Drive, Moldoff said yesterday.

“I think it would be a welcome addition,” he said. “I believe it will the first dialysis treatment center in Salem.”

Fresenius is no stranger to the medical field. The Waltham, Mass.-based company has 2,100 dialysis facilities in North America, with 11 in New Hampshire, according to Fresenius spokesman Jon Stone. They include a center in Londonderry.

“We are interested in opening the clinic in Salem to address a need for these services in Southern New Hampshire,” Stone said.

Fresenius needs Planning Board approval because a treatment center would be considered a change in permitted use for the property, located in a commercial-industrial district, Moldoff said.

If approved, the facility would occupy 6,700 square feet in an industrial building that is already home to The Learning Path child care center and InterCoast Career Institute, he said.

Fresenius hopes to open in Salem by late summer, employing eight people, Stone said.

The location is only a short distance from where Osomor LLC and Crosby Advisors LLC propose a 75,000-square-foot office building at 28 Keewaydin Drive.

A public hearing on the office building project will be held Tuesday night. The Zoning Board of Adjustment recently granted a variance to allow for a four-story, 61-foot-tall building that would accommodate 220 employees, bringing jobs to the area. The variance was needed because regulations prohibited buildings more than 45 feet tall and three stories high in that district, Moldoff said.

Crosby, which moved to 11 Keewaydin Drive from Boston two years ago, manages holdings of Fidelity Investments owner Edward “Ned” Johnson III and his family.

The third project to be considered Tuesday is the retail plaza proposed by developer Thur Ken at the site of The Green Barn restaurant.

Thur Ken received a variance from the Zoning Board of Adjustment on Jan. 3 and seeks site plan and subdivision approval from the Planning Board.

If approved, the shopping center would be built at the corner of Hampstead Road and Main Street. It would include a 13,000-square-foot CVS pharmacy, a bank, restaurant and a several other businesses.

But that means the former dairy barn that’s been home to The Green Barn restaurant for 42 years would likely be demolished and the business moved to another location in the area, according to owner Carl Bohne.

The three projects to be considered Tuesday are among several economic development initiatives that have helped spur growth in Salem the past few years. The biggest was the arrival of computer networking giant Enterasys in January, bringing more than 600 jobs to the former Cisco Systems building at 9 Northeastern Blvd. Enterasys relocated from Andover, Mass.

Last year, several other businesses also moved to Salem. They included Liberty Utilities, Aldi supermarket, Lord & Taylor, and restaurants such as Popeyes, Jake’s Wayback Burgers and Jay Gee’s.

Other businesses expanded, including Rockingham Toyota and Honda and Tuscan Kitchen restaurant. Tuscan Kitchen owner Joseph Faro also opened Tuscan Market last fall.

Donna Morris, executive director of the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce, said yesterday that the town is clearly experiencing a resurgence in economic development.

“Salem is a great place to do business,” she said. “I think it’s a real positive sign.”