Fate of $16M road drives Concord housing project with nearly 1,000 units

By Michael Cousineau Union Leader Staff

Mar 27, 2024 Updated 11 hrs ago

CONCORD — Plans to build nearly 1,000 housing units in Concord hinge on funding for a new 1.5-mile road that could cost up to $16 million to build, a developer said.

“We need to work out a development agreement with the city on the construction of that road infrastructure that I was talking about,” developer Kevin Lacasse said in an interview after addressing a housing conference Tuesday.

The city turned down one idea, he said, to pay 100% of the road — which would link Sewalls Falls Road and Merchants Way — through a tax increment financing district, which is a defined area where property taxes can be designated for specific purposes.

Lacasse said he is working with city staff on a compromise to share the road costs, which are inflated by the expense of crossing two brooks.

“Everything is negotiable,” he said.

The estimated $500 million project, to be built on half of a 123-acre site bordering the Merrimack River south of Exit 17 on Interstate 93, could take until 2030 to complete. It will include townhomes, condos and apartments.

A leading housing expert applauded the project.

“I thought that Kevin’s development that he showed us today was really important by the fact that it had this mix of housing types,” said Chris Herbert, executive director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

The country, he said, needs more varieties of housing.

“We need to have more forms of smaller or cost-efficient housing,” Herbert said at the conference.

Matt Walsh, Concord’s deputy city manager-development, said the Monitor Way project had a preliminary design review consultation with the Planning Board last October.

“The project developers have not applied for any municipal development permits or approvals for the Monitor Way project,” Walsh said in an email.

Lacasse said the best-case scenario would be for the first residents to move in by late 2025 or early 2026 into townhomes to be built and sold.

The project also will contain self-storage units, 151 units of workforce housing, condo units for sale and hundreds of market-rate apartments.

The various facets could be worked on simultaneously as each would attract “a different clientele,” Lacasse said.

During Tuesday’s conference, Lacasse outlined the project highlights.

The development has garnered public support, but those “with torches and pitchforks really come out” to oppose projects, he said.

Darren Winham, economic development director in Exeter, said he approached big area employers who provided letters of support to the zoning board to get a large project approved.

Lacasse said his project would include about 2 miles of walking trails, bike paths and public river access, which currently doesn’t exist along that section of the river.

“Going into it, we knew it was going to be a long project,” he said.