New retail building design approved in Manchester
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | February 11,2013
Route 9 bridge almost finished, open to traffic
MANCHESTER — The Manchester Development Review Board approved a design Wednesday for a building that's intended to replace the Sirloin Saloon along Depot Street.
Craig Hunter, director of facilities for Manchester Designer Outlets, approached the board in October with a proposal to tear down the restaurant, which closed in December 2011, but board members said they wanted to see a plan for the replacement building before approving a request for demolition.
While the board approved the plan for the building, tentatively called “Town Center,” Hunter pointed out the building's owner, Ben Hauben, would still need several more permits before the former restaurant could be taken down.
However, Hunter said there are reasons to want construction on the new building started as soon as possible.
“There's a lot of interest in this building from prospective tenants already. We obviously can't sign any leases. We've got some letters of intent that are signed but we're hoping to be substantially done with construction by the end of 2013,” he said.
Hunter said one possible tenant was a small, satellite branch of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Museum of Williamstown, Mass. He said there was also interest, especially because the building would be at the site of a once-popular restaurant, in using about a third of its interior for a restaurant or cafe.
The proposed two-story building has a footprint of about 9,700 square feet on the site with about 20,000 square feet contained within its walls.
Its appearance is deliberately similar to others in the downtown, Hunter said.
“I believe that this building takes elements of a number of different buildings that already exist in town and it comes up with a great solution for a very difficult site which is the Sirloin Saloon,” he said.
There's a grade change of about 14 feet from east to west at the site, so from the east, it would appear to be a two-story building, and from the west, only the upper story would be visible. Both sides have outdoor plazas with benches, tables and green space.
The building will essentially share a parking lot with two other businesses, Friends of the Sun and Manchester Woodcraft, so pedestrians will be able to reach all three without leaving the lot, which architect Kirk Moore, of BMA Architects in Bennington, said was deliberate.
“The really nice thing about this project is I think it's going to going to kind of pull everything together by connecting the sites with the plazas on both sides of the building. It's something that's going to be really nice from the pedestrian point of view,” he said.
The biggest concern raised by the Development Review Board members was the proposed name of the project, Town Center. Alan Benoit said he was concerned that the name, especially for something so close to the municipally owned town green, would sound like it was a municipal project.
Hunter said Hauben chose the name, among other reasons, because he believes it will “tie everything together.”
While board members agreed they didn't like the name, they didn't tie their approval to changing it.
The former Sirloin Saloon, which Hauben bought in December 2011, was built in 1850 and went through a major remodel in 1974. Hunter said his company had checked with the state's Division of Historic Preservation and been assured there was no reason the building couldn't be torn down.