Dartmouth begins on South Block construction

by Alex Belser | 10/25/04 5:00am

A three-year College plan to revamp more of Hanover's downtown is set to begin this week with the demolition of four vacant buildings. The plan aims to raze much of a downtown block, construct six new buildings and an underground parking garage and attract new commercial and residential tenants.

The block in question lies at the southern edge of the Hanover retail strip across from CVS and is bounded by South Main Street, East South Street, Dorrance Place and Currier Street. It currently contains active businesses Caf Buon Gustaio, Hanover True Value and Ramunto's Brick and Brew Pizzeria, in addition to a few houses that will remain untouched by the construction.

The first phase of the South Block project is set to begin sometime this week with the demolition of houses at 3 Currier Place, 5 Currier Place, 9 East South Street, and 7 East South Street, a former church, Associate Director of Real Estate John Caulo said.

Those buildings, which Hanover town manager Julia Griffin called eyesores, have been empty for several years but had been used as rental properties for a time after the College bought them around 1999, Caulo said.

The buildings, prior to the College purchasing them, had been rented to students and were in dilapidated condition.

Before beginning on the parking garage, Dartmouth still needs to file for various building permits that will allow the College to dig down approximately 10 feet.

If possible, the College will look to pour concrete before it is too cold this winter, Caulo said.

But Griffin said the town has through mid-December to formally review the building plan, and indications are it may take that long.

"It's been more difficult than most projects simply because it's complicated," said town Planning and Zoning Director Jonathan Edwards.

The College wants to relocate the existing businesses in order to double the commercial space available in the area, an aim it hopes to accomplish by late 2007.

Caulo said the College is in negotiations with Ramunto's and the True Value hardware store to move to the Howe Library end of the block once they are constructed. The rents for those spaces would be similar or slightly higher than what the tenants currently pay, Caulo said.

Caulo said a relocation to a less busy area will not be a problem for businesses if a sidewalk is built. However, the proposed location may cause Cafe Buon Gustaio to skip town.

"We couldn't see moving off Main Street and paying Main Street rental prices," said Theo Snyder, co-owner of the Italian restaurant.

Snyder said that she wouldn't rule out talking to Dartmouth again but that talks are currently off and the restaurant, in Hanover for 14 years, is now looking at other possible locations.