By Doug Ireland
---- — SALEM — An old landmark is getting a new look.
Workers are completing a major redevelopment of Plaza on Broadway, a 38,000-square-foot shopping center that’s been a mainstay in the community for 51 years.
Yesterday, the two-story building’s facade received a new coat of stucco as an excavator tore up ground out front. Part of the inside was being renovated as well.
The plaza at 356-366 S. Broadway is perhaps best known as the former home of Seaworld Pet Center before it closed several years ago.
Soon, it will be the new home of Harbor Freight Tools, a chain store with at least 400 locations across the country. It’s only other New Hampshire store is in Amherst.
A half-dozen businesses have occupied the plaza at any one time over the years. Only two remain — Bull Moose Music and Gently Loved Baby. Other recent tenants include Partyrama and Sunless Tanning Parlor.
The property is leased by PGSI Properties of Salem, owned by Paul Garabedian and his family. Garabedian also owns Paul Garabedian and Sons Construction.
Renovations began about a month and a half ago, according to Christine Garabedian of PGSI.
There is no definitive date for when the project will be completed and when Harbor Freight would move in, she said.
“The project is moving forward and we’re looking forward to having Harbor Freight in there,” she said.
A huge Harbor Freight banner is stretched across a chain-link fence in the plaza. No one from the company could be reached for comment yesterday.
Harbor Freight will occupy about 16,000 square feet, Christine Garabedian said. Three smaller spaces are available, including two that are approximately 6,000 square feet.
“We’re been talking to other tenants, but nothing is final yet,” she said.
Town planning director Ross Moldoff said redevelopment of the plaza is an economic boon for Salem — a popular spot for shoppers for decades.
Moldoff recalled taking his children, who are now grown, to Seaworld Pet Center and also Pet World.
He said Harbor Freight will be a welcomed addition.
“We’re excited to have them in Salem,” Moldoff said. “That has been vacant for a while.”
Moldoff said he was pleased PGSI chose to renovate, rather than demolish and starting over.
“The Planning Board and I enjoy working with applicants who are upgrading existing buildings,” he said.
The project received site plan approval from the board in November, Moldoff said.
Bull Moose store manager Kris Wood said the construction has had little or no impact on the business. Bull Moose has its own large banner, saying it’s open.
“We’re making do,” he said. “We’ve got loyal customers. They will find a way to get here, no matter where the construction is.”