---- — HOOKSETT — Residents and visitors welcomed news yesterday that ground has been broken for a significant upgrade of the Hooksett welcome centers on Interstate 93.
Gov. Maggie Hassan, other state officials and representatives of The Common Man restaurants wielded shovels and oversize cutlery yesterday in the ceremonial event.
The Common Man has a 35-year lease with the state and will fund construction and operations at the welcome areas on both sides of the highway. the state Liquor Commission will continue to fund and operate the two state liquor stores there.
The redesigned centers will feature multiple dining options, a visitors center, gas stations, a bank, a country store and the state liquor stores.
“The Hooksett Welcome Centers project is an innovative public-private partnership that will help boost our economy and support our tourism industry by providing a high-quality welcome for all visitors to the Granite State,” Hassan said. “With the project estimated to create over 130 long-term jobs, the new Welcome Centers will help spur economic growth and offer a uniquely New Hampshire experience that showcases what makes our state special.”
New construction will feature “mill-building architecture.” The Common Man dining options will include a 1950s-style diner, am Italian farmhouse restaurant, a deli and a breakfast option.
There also will be a 24-hour convenience store, two new liquor stores, a bank branch, and an interactive visitors center. Irving Oil will have two gas stations and there are plans for electric vehicle plug-in stations. At 20,000 square feet, the new liquor stores will be twice the size of the existing outlets.
“This is a unique and innovative project involving all New Hampshire-based companies from the owner/operator, bank, architects, construction, and other partners,” said Alex Ray, owner and founder of The Common Man family of restaurants in New Hampshire. “As a long-time resident and business owner in New Hampshire, I’m really looking forward to a fresh statement for visitors and residents at these welcome centers and service areas.”
The project is expected to bring 137 full-time jobs to the area.
Both welcome centers and the liquor stores will remain open during construction, which is scheduled to be completed in April 2015.