Here’s how the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance describes the state law that allows Milford officials to offer a tax break to the people developing the old Boston Shoe Store site on the Oval.
“RSA 79-E is a state law that encourages investment in downtowns and village centers. It provides a tax incentive for the rehabilitation and active use of under-utilized commercial buildings and, in so doing, aims to promote strong local economies and smart, sustainable growth as an alternative to sprawl.”
Rehabilitation and active use of an under-utilized building is not exactly what is planned for that old dilapidated store. The structure that remained after it was cut down to one story in the 1960s had no apparent historic value and is being torn down and replaced by a building that looks more like the original two-story peaked-roofed building.
It will be welcome. The plans are certainly ambitious, with a restaurant, a sandwich-ice cream shop, and a patio off the restaurant that will allow views of the Oval. It seems like a bit of a risk, given all the other eateries around the Oval, but we are certainly pleased that it is being taken.
The old building occupies a prime piece of real estate, on a corner in the middle of a thriving community. Imagine sitting on that patio having lunch and watching the Pumpkin Festival.
Based on the state law and authorization from Milford town meeting voters, selectmen granted the developers a tax incentive for five years, agreeing that the proposal fulfills many of the requirements under the state law. It’s going to be a good looking building that will enhance the Oval.
Town officials are hoping the tax incentive will encourage other property owners to invest in improvements.
The one concern we have is parking. The spaces around and near the Oval are almost always in use and, yes, we know there is always the idea of providing parking a block or two away, but given the nature of people, they want to park as close to their destinations as possible, A block away? Doesn’t that require walking? Who wants to walk?
Still, we have no doubt that Milford’s officials and planners will figure something out. And knowing Steve Desmarais, it hasn’t slipped his mind, either. He’s been around this area a long time, he knows its problems.