Claremont seeks to redevelop brownfields and boost tourism

CLAREMONT, NH (WCAX) – Redevelopment continues in Claremont, New Hampshire, a former mill town that is reinventing itself. The city now has its sights set on the downtown brownfields.

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

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

The redevelopment is part of a series of ongoing projects in Claremont, including a recently redeveloped downtown corridor. “Obviously it’s important to the people who live here,” Merrill said. “It’s also important for tourism and we need the tourism economy to support small local businesses in the city centre.”

“The community, in general, has come a long way in the last two years,” said Josh Savage, who in 2018 opened the Barn Cafe across the river from the Brownfield sites and directly in front of the renovated factory which begins to welcome new tenants this week. “To see big players like them coming here and investing in the city here, I think, says a lot about where we are headed.”

Savage also makes investments. He bought the building next to the cafe for mixed use and is expanding the parking lot at the back. As for brownfields, he said he was in favor of anything that benefits the whole community. “Concert area… There are all kinds of fun ideas that we can do, but I think at the end of the day it should be something that will draw people in,” he said.

The final plans of the engineering students are expected in the coming weeks. Claremont City Council will have the final say.

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