2.2.3 The Hanover Investment Corporation (HIC) Block

(Bounded by Lebanon, South Street, South College Street and Sanborn Road).

As the largest redevelopment site in the Downtown, this block is of obvious strategic importance. The opportunity to prepare a comprehensive development project is enhanced by the fact that its owner, a College-owned corporation, is committed to ensuring that Hanover's Downtown remains a healthy, livable, and high-quality environment. Because of the block's large size (approximately 2.8 acres) and consolidated ownership, there exists an opportunity to redevelop the site in a manner that addresses many of the perceived 'needs' identified through the consultation process for the Downtown. Based on a gross site FAR of 2.0 (assumes 60% site coverage, 4 floor buildings and below-grade parking) this block could accommodate a theoretical maximum of 292,000 square feet.

The two priority needs are:

  • Affordable housing, including units suitable for families.
  • A range of retail space that can both accommodate existing demand for up-market tenants and provide more affordable space suitable for mid-market retailers (providing 'everyday' goods and services).

Other needs considered include:

  • Office space
  • Clubs and cafes providing entertainment that will broaden the activities available in the evening and give vibrancy to the Downtown.

The opportunity to provide a new building for the Howe Library on this block has also been the subject of discussions between HIC and the Library Board. A potential scenario would involve HIC acquiring the existing Howe Library site at South Street and Currier Place in conjunction with the development of a new Library facility at the west corner of Lebanon and Sanborn Road, providing a more prominent location for this important civic building. A new Library building in this location would also complement the objective of creating a gateway at the Lebanon/Crosby intersection.

During the course of this study, the ongoing discussion on the future expansion of the High School and Middle School facilities expanded to include a potential relocation scenario whereby the two schools would be relocated to a College-owned site on Lyme Road.

There is a clear desire expressed by Hanover residents to retain the Schools as a vital part of the Downtown. Financial considerations aside, from the perspective of maintaining a vibrant downtown, it is in the interests of the Downtown to maintain the Schools in their present location. However, should financial considerations compel the Schools to move from the Lebanon Street site, and should their present building sites (approximately 5.0 acres) become available for redevelopment, this will have a profound impact on how the Town addresses its need for more medium-density housing.

For instance, if a townhouse-type development of 30 units per acre were built on this site (while maintaining a substantial landscaped setback of 30 feet from Lebanon Street), approximately 150 units suitable for families could be provided in this location. This scenario assumes that all existing open, green spaces are left intact.

It is important to consider this potential scenario for the School site if only to put a broader perspective on the evaluation of the best use for the HIC lands. In this scenario, the provision of 150 units of housing not far from the HIC lands may reduce the pressure to use the HIC lands primarily for residential purposes.

The vision for the Downtown is predicated on establishing firm boundaries to avoid commercial expansion into established residential areas. Long-term commercial growth will therefore be confined to a very restricted area. If the vision for Downtown 20+ years from now also includes the ability to expand commercial opportunities (retail, entertainment, food services and office uses) the HIC lands are strategically important as they provide the largest site suitable for commercial infill.

This does not point to an either/or dilemma. Given the uncertainty of the School's site, the HIC lands should not necessarily be planned under the assumption that housing will be provided elsewhere. New development on the HIC lands should allow for future flexibility that will allow residential units to be converted into commercial uses as demand dictates. This flexibility can be achieved by the design of buildings with appropriate dimensional and construction characteristics that allow for this conversion. This suggests a building typology that is less house-form in character. Appropriate models may be the Bridgman Building and Davison Block on South Main Street that combine retail at grade with upper floors that combine both residential and office uses (see section 2.7.4 Height Restrictions).

The form of development of the HIC Lebanon block should however be less monolithic than the Main Street buildings and provide for more penetration beside and through buildings utilizing mews-type lanes and pedestrian passages in both a north-south and east-west direction. Similarly, the build-to line on the south side of Lebanon should allow for greater articulation and a variety of setbacks for individual buildings.

Consideration should be given in the zoning to provide for a 10-foot front setback within which encroachments can be made for one or two-storey elements including projecting bay windows, glazed entrances, canopies, colonnades, and other interior or exterior elements which will assist in forming a variety of setbacks along the street frontage and a range of "human-scale" elements (figures 14 through 17). The scale of development should also be limited such that no single building elements are wider than 80 feet and that multiple passageways at least 15 feet wide between buildings be allowed for. An exception to this guideline may be the Library, which, if situated on the corner of Lebanon and Sanborn, may require a larger frontage.

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Given the potential energy that may be accomplished on the north side of Lebanon with the future expansion of the Hopkins Center, Hood Museum and other College facilities, and in combination with a new civic space active during the day and evening (as envisioned in the concept for the Row) the theme of an 'Arts District', including the HIC lands may form an appropriate design and planning framework for this area.

Live/Work uses should be encouraged in the zoning ordinance so that a portion of the HIC lands can be developed as flexible, loft-type units suitable for residential use, arts studio-based businesses, start-up Information Technology businesses or a combination of the above. This eclectic mix of uses will be an asset in creating a vibrant, animated area in the Downtown.

The Lebanon, Crosby, Sanborn intersection is both awkward in its alignment and potentially dangerous. Consideration should be given to the alteration of the existing road pattern to close off the northerly portion of Sanborn, thus eliminating the awkward intersection with Lebanon (figure 18). Sanborn could be realigned to connect, in a westerly direction through the HIC block, to Sargent Place. Sargent Place would be extended southward to link with South Street. Access from Lebanon to South Street, which is now partially accommodated through Sanborn Road, would be replaced by extending South Street (as a two-way street) through to Hovey Lane, which then links northward to Lebanon. This configuration will also assist in distributing traffic more evenly as it comes into the Downtown from the southeast and will make a more direct link to the new parking garage on South Street behind 7 Lebanon.

Figure 18: Proposed alterations to Sanborn Road and South Street.

Figure 18 - Proposed Alterations to Sanborn Road and South Street

In this scenario, the northerly portion of the Sanborn right-of-way will be available to provide a larger development site area as part of the HIC parcel. This in turn could give greater flexibility for the development of a new Howe Library and a below-grade parking facility.

The HIC lands in this area are recommended to be rezoned as part of a new D district (see section 2.7 for a description of this zoning category). Two scenarios should be considered for this rezoning.

Option 1 would rezone the entire block bounded by Lebanon, South College, South and Sanborn Road as part of the proposed D-1 district providing for buildings up to 45 feet in height throughout the block (figure 19). A minimum 5-foot setback is recommended for the top floor as a means to reduce the perceived height of buildings in the D-1 areas.

Option 2 would rezone the north portion of the block as D-1 and the south portion fronting onto South Street as D-2, providing for a more house-type building form (35-foot height limit) facing South Street (figure 20, see also Zoning Map figures 33 and 34).

Figures 19 and 20:

  • Figure 19 South Street Zoning Option 1 with north side zoned D-1.
  • Figure 20 South Street Zoning Option 2 with north side zoned D-2.

Figures 19 and 20 - South Street Zoning Options