The Hanover Planning Board continued its public hearing for the proposed redevelopment of Hanover Mall without giving the project a final approval on Monday night.
PREP Property Group Inc., which acquired the mall in 2016, plans to demolish the enclosed mall on Washington Street and replace it with an open-air retail, entertainment and lifestyle space and residential development. The new development would have about 600,000 square feet of retail space, about 200,000 less than the current structure. The residential development would include 297 units.
On Monday night, town departments were given time to respond to PREP’s plan.
Hanover Fire Chief Jeffrey Blanchard said the new development will bring an additional 150 calls per year, but that he is confident the department can comfortably handle the increase. Police Chief Walter Sweeney said he does not anticipate the new development placing a strain on his department.
In a letter, the Hanover School District said the project would bring a manageable increase in school enrollment to the town.
PREP has agreed to spend $150,000 on emergency vehicle preemption equipment, which allows emergency vehicles to turn traffic lights green, for three lights connected to the mall.
However, water supply and traffic in the area remain sticking points.
Victor Diniak, Hanover's director of public works, said he thinks the town has the supply, storage and pumping capacity to supply the new development with water.
“This, however, is a guarded conclusion,” he said.
Residents complying with water restrictions, a relatively wet spring, aggressive leak detection by his department and “a little bit of luck,” all kept the town from over-drawing from its water supply this year, he said.
Diniak suggested PREP pay for Hanover to replace 1,000 water meters around town over the course of five years, to help the town stay below its water use limits laid out in a state consent order. The state-imposed limit is meant to ensure the town maintains drinking water standards.
The mall is the town’s biggest water user, and the new development is projected to use 129,000 gallons of water per day, an increase of 27,000 gallons from the mall’s current usage, Diniak said.
Lloyd Sova, PREP’s vice president of development pushed back on the idea that the developers should pay for new water meters in the town, saying that the development will bring in increased tax revenue for the town that could then be spent on improvements to the water system.
Residents and planning board members at the meeting remained concerned the new development would aggravate traffic problems in Hanover’s Walnut Hill neighborhood.
Jeffrey Dirk, an engineer with Vanasse and Associates Inc., an engineering and planning company hired by PREP, gave a list of recommendations for how to town could ease congestion around the development. These included reconfiguring several intersections and installing measures to get cars to slow down on Woodland Drive, included textured roadways and a raised intersection at Woodland Drive and Dillingham Way.
Sova also gave an updated on which new businesses have signed leases for the redevelopment. Market Basket, Showcase Cinema, and two restaurants officially signed on last week, and two more restaurants are planning on signing so far, he said. Several stores on the edges of the development will stay in their current locations, including Macy’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods. The Sears currently in the mall will not be returning to the redeveloped mall and will likely close later this year.
“The leasing momentum is going very well,” he said.
Lisa Berardinelli, Specialty Leasing Manager for the mall, said on Tuesday the Buffalo Wild Wings, Trader Joes, Panera, Petco, Office Max and Mattress Firm will also remain part of the mall and, along with Macy's and Dick's, will remain open during construction.
If the project gets the required local and state permits, demolition is tentatively anticipated to begin at the mall in November of this year.
PREP anticipates that the commercial development will be completed in February of 2021 and that businesses will open the next month. Demolition for the residential units, which cannot begin until the commercial space is finished because of the area’s waste water system, is set to begin in April, 2021. Construction of the residential development would finished in November of 2022.
Before the project can proceed, the planning board must give PREP approval for a site planning permit. The board’s next meeting about the project is set for 7 p.m. on Oct. 28 in Hanover High School’s media center.
Follow Audrey Cooney on Twitter at @Audrey_Cooney.