New gas station, coffee shop planned for Bedford’s South River Road

By Kimberly Houghton Union Leader Correspondent

BEDFORD — A new gas station, coffee shop and convenience store are being proposed for South River Road.

The local planning board reviewed conceptual plans for the project this week, which includes property at 189 and 192 South River Road behind River Road Tavern and White Willow Salon & Day Spa.

The site is across the street from the Manchester Country Club.

“Our concept is to expand upon the redevelopment of that site,” said Chris Riley of Riley Investment Properties LLC. “It is one of our top priorities that this site fit in with what is there.”

A gas station with 16 fueling stations, a 4,000-square-foot convenience store and a drive-thru coffee shop are being proposed as part of the preliminary plans. The potential coffee shop tenant has not yet been disclosed.

“We are in discussions, but nothing has been finalized,” Riley said of the future tenant.

Brian Pratt of Fuss & O’Neill said there is a Dunkin’ Donuts shop directly across the street with a drive-thru that is often busy with traffic.

“We think this might actually help the situation,” Pratt said.

Rick Sawyer, town manager, emphasized the importance of constructing the coffee shop drive-thru lane in an area that is outside the main parking location, noting there are Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks sites in Bedford that are problematic because the store’s parking area and drive-thru queuing area overlap.

“It is by far the number-one complaint we receive,” said Sawyer.

Developers said they were considering placing electric car charging stations near the drive-thru area to potentially avoid traffic congestion, although they are open to other ideas to improve the traffic flow. A full traffic study will be completed as part of the formal site plan, said Pratt.

Once complete, he expects there will be a combination of 129 parking spaces between the River Road Tavern, spa and gas station.

“It is a good location,” he said of the site, explaining the closest gas stations are about 1.6 miles to the north and about 1.4 miles to the south.

Riley said it is his hope that the new gas station, convenience store and coffee shop will look like they have always been a part of the existing development. The architecture will be designed in a similar manner to match the current facade on the parcel, he said.

According to Pratt, there is additional land at the rear of the property that could potentially be developed by different owners.

A future access road connection will likely be proposed as part of this project.

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