Claremont looks to redevelop brownfields, spur tourism

Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 5:46 PM EDT
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CLAREMONT, N.H. (WCAX) - Redevelopment continues in Claremont, New Hampshire, an old mill town that’s in the process of reinventing itself. The city now has its sights set on Brownfield properties downtown.

Engineering students from the University of Connecticut are helping the city of Claremont map out a plan for the future development of two Brownfields sites. “The University of Connecticut has technical assistance for Brownfields program,” said Nancy Merrill, Claremont’s economic development director.

The two sites are part of a 10-acre city-owned parcel along the Sugar River. One has already been cleaned up of potentially hazardous materials and the other -- an old machine tool smoke stack -- still has a long way to go. As the U-Conn consultants map out their report, which will include designated flood planes and topography, the city is also seeking input from citizens. “New walkways, a brewery, was one idea -- a dog park. There are all sort of ideas that came up,” Merrill said.

The redevelopment is among a series of projects underway in Claremont, including a newly revamped downtown corridor. “Clearly, it is important to people who live here,” Merrill said. “It’s also important for tourism and we need the tourism economy to support the local small businesses downtown.”

“The community, in general, has come a long way in the last couple of years,” said Josh Savage, who in 2018 opened the Barn Cafe across the river from the Brownfield sites and directly in front of the refurbished mill that begins welcoming new tenants this week. “Seeing big guys like them come in and invest in the city here, I think, speaks a lot for where we are headed.”

Savage is also making investments. He bought the building next to the cafe for mixed-use purposes and is expanding the parking out back. As for the Brownfields, he said he’s in favor of anything that benefits the entire community. “Concert area... There are all kinds of fun ideas we can do, but I think ultimately it should be something that will draw people in,” he said.

Final plans from the engineering students are expected in the next couple of weeks. The Claremont City Council will have the final word.

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