News

Market Basket goes to planners

Friday, October 22, 2010

By CAMERON KITTLE

Staff Writer

BEDFORD – With more than 60 locations already and two more planned for Hooksett and Manchester, Market Basket grocery stores are expanding fast. Their low prices and discounts could be headed to Bedford, too, after development representatives proposed a new store to the Planning Board on Oct. 18.

Jim Lamp, a representative for project developer RMD Inc., and Jeff Kevan, of Bedford land surveying service TFMoran Inc., led the presentation and said Market Basket would be successful in Bedford for the same reason it has been in other New Hampshire towns: low prices.

“Even if you don’t shop there, it will help you,” Lamp said, noting that the price of groceries would drop at all surrounding stores in the Bedford area to stay in competition with Market Basket.

The building would be at the intersection of Route 114 and Donald Street and cover 78,332-square feet. The proposal still has to go through the Zoning Board of Adjustment for variance on multiple town ordinances and, Kevan said, they would submit a file for one of the ZBA meetings in November.

The earliest construction could start on the new building would be in late spring, Lamp said. But, if all goes to plan, the Bedford Market Basket could be up and running by the end of 2011.

It would sit atop the current site of Slammers Sports Bar and Grill and displace the business, but the restaurant’s owner, John O’Donnell, spoke at the meeting in favor of the new store.

“This is a first-class company from top to bottom,” he said. “It’s a great fit for the town of Bedford.”

O’Donnell said he knows people who drive 25 minutes from their home to shop at Market Basket stores.

“The word on the street is really that this is the king of the grocery store chains,” O’Donnell said. “I’ve heard nothing but fantastic stories about their discounts and deals.”

Board members embraced the idea as a whole, although Lamp and Kevan’s proposed solution to traffic raised some concerns.

The current plan shows the installation of a roundabout at the store’s entrance, where it connects to Donald Street.

Planning Board Chairman Jon Levenstein and Vice Chairman of the Town Council Bill Dermody were quick to question the roundabout but accepted Lamp’s reasoning for the time being.

Lamp said traffic congestion would make it difficult for shoppers to turn left out of the store without a roundabout, but with it traffic would rarely need to stop at all.

Kathy Shartzer, a Bedford resident, did not speak out strictly against the Market Basket proposal, but she urged caution on the project.

She said she likes to walk in that area, even though it is not a common place for pedestrians, and that the developers should consider adding sidewalks and a crossing area.

Lamp said there is no “prototypical store” for Market Basket locations, and he would be willing to work with the town and the board to determine the building’s appearance.

But a few board members were pleased with the proposal on its own.

“We’d like to see more details but it’s a good start,” board member Karen McGinley said. “I think you’ve made a great effort looking at what we would like to see in Bedford.”

Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or ckittle @nashuatelegraph.com.

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