By Tim Camerato | Valley News Staff Writer
West Lebanon — The busy Route 12A corridor in West Lebanon could soon see a large retail expansion, after state officials on Wednesday announced plans to build a new 19,000-square-foot New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlet just south of Exit 20.
The store would be built next to the Weathervane Seafood Restaurant on what is now a parking lot, according to plans filed with the city. Pending a Lebanon Planning Board review next month, officials say construction could begin in the spring.
The new store would replace an existing outlet located in the nearby Powerhouse Plaza.
That outlet, which is nearly half the size of the proposed one, will remain open during construction, according to a news release from the state Liquor Commission.
“The New Hampshire Liquor Commission is excited to be enhancing our store presence in the Upper Valley, which benefits not only local residents but also the traveling public,” Commission Chairman Joseph Mollica said in the release.
Once construction is completed, the new store is expected to nearly match the size of those at the Hooksett tolls on Interstate 93, and would dwarf the Centerra Parkway location by about 12,500 square feet.
The store’s relocation to a larger lot likely is tailored to match its importance in the state liquor system. The current West Lebanon store, just a few miles from Vermont’s border, is one of the largest grossing in the state, according to the Liquor Commission’s 2016 annual report.
The Powerhouse Plaza outlet made $14.2 million in sales last year, the 10th highest out of 79 stores statewide. In comparison, the Centerra store made about $6 million, ranking 29th.
Plans for the new store call for 160 parking spaces at the property, which developers refer to as having a “hammerhead configuration.”
Traffic currently funnels to the 4.1-acre property from Route 12A through a drive that also connects to North Country Plaza, Denny’s, Sherwin-Williams and Interchange Drive, which in turn connects to the Walmart-area businesses.
The property is currently owned by the Gagner Family Limited Partnership and Weathervane Seafood and is valued at $2.4 million, according to city records. The Weathervane building was constructed in 1986 and now makes up about 11,600 square feet of the lot, records show.
While the Weathervane would lose some of its parking lot during construction, there are no plans for the restaurant’s departure from West Lebanon, according to plans filed with Lebanon’s Planning Office.
“The existing on-site building, driveway, the boulevard-style main drive aisle and most of the southern Weathervane parking lot are proposed to be retained,” wrote engineers from Manchester-based Fuss & O’Neill, an engineering firm.
The firm is expected to develop the new liquor outlet alongside New Hampshire real estate developer Alex Vailas, whose company, AVG2 Lebanon LLC, is listed as the project applicant.
The two recently worked to build the new liquor outlet in New Hampton, N.H., just off of Interstate 93 in the Lakes Region. That 12,000-square-foot store opened in April 2016, according to a Liquor Commission news release.
The developers are requesting eight waivers from the Planning Board, which would allow them to forgo landscaping, curbing and signage standards.
Improvements at the proposed West Lebanon store mainly consist of drainage upgrades. Catch basins currently on-site aren’t functioning, according to the developers, who propose a new system of basins and pipes to lead water away from the road. New stop signs also are proposed for the road leading from Route 12A to the Weathervane.
The new store is expected to generate 159 vehicle trips during weekday peak traffic hours, according to an impact study performed by Fuss & O’Neill. Engineers predict peak weekend traffic would total 167 trips.
About 20 percent of those likely would come from drivers visiting other nearby businesses, such as Walmart, Price Chopper and the Weathervane, according to the report. Another 20 percent would come from vehicles already traveling down Route 12A.
The Lebanon Planning Board is scheduled to discuss the proposal during its next meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 8, at City Hall.
Tim Camerato can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3223.
© 2018 Valley News