Salem Board Backs Lupoli's Plan to Redevelop Plaza


SALEM, N.H. —  For 25 years, Sal's Pizza has been a staple in the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire.

And it all began in Salem.

Representatives for Lupoli Companies said they hope the tradition of picking up a pizza at Sal's in Salem will continue for years to come as they propose a major redevelopment at 29-49 N.Broadway. 

Lupoli Companies, owner of the restaurant chain, plans to renovate the Route 28 plaza to make way for a larger Sal's, another restaurant, offices, retail space and apartments.

The project was first proposed three years ago but put on hold at the 1.1-acre site before plans were presented to the planning board.

Project representative Eric Gerade of TEC Inc. in Lawrence, an engineering firm, has said the proposal is similar to the one introduced in March 2013. He would not say why the project was delayed. 

Rick Friberg, another project representative for TEC, outlined the latest plans for the 18,000-square-foot project for the planning board on Thursday. A conceptual proposal was presented to the board in late November.

The project calls for demolishing the current home of Sal's and an adjacent building, where Portland Glass and most recently an antique shop were located. They will be replaced by three new buildings.

Sal's has been in the 95-year-old building since the 1990s, according to town Planning Director Ross Moldoff. 

It opened not long after Sal Lupoli founded the family business in an 800-square-foot storefront nearby in 1990.

Sal's now has more than 40 locations in several states and its headquarters in Lawrence.

As initially proposed, one restaurant would occupy a single-story building at one end of the plaza while the second would be in a two-story building that also includes office space.

The second building would be in the middle while the third structure — housing retail, office and residential space — was proposed for the other end of the plaza.

The latest plans call for a project about 2,500-square-feet larger than what was presented in November and three curb cuts on North Broadway instead of one. Lupoli has since acquired a small adjacent lot to expand parking.

It would be the first major project proposed in the town's Depot Village Overlay District.

The planning board reviewed the project and made recommendations, but is not yet required to vote on whether to grant approval, Moldoff said.  

Friberg said they will now be able to provide 11 additional parking spaces, bringing the total to 70. A study showed about 48 parking spaces are typically occupied on weekdays and about 51 are used simultaneously on Saturdays, he said.

Providing sufficient parking and increased traffic on heavily traveled Route 28 are major concerns, according to Moldoff and board members.

"Based on our parking calculations, we feel we have enough parking on site as it is — period," Friberg said. "But parking supply was a serious concern at the last meeting."  

Neighbors such as Diane Ferraiolo of 48 N. Broadway are also concerned about increased traffic in the Salem Depot area.

"We are witness to fender benders over there all the time," she said.

To resolve the issue, Ferraiolo recommended having a central entrance, a northbound exit and a southbound exit.

"It would eliminate these traffic problems and people cutting across," she said. "That is our major concern — the number of accident that do occur in that area because of the Depot congestion problems." 

Moldoff said they would work together to resolve the traffic issues. Route 28 would also be widened as part of the project, Friberg said.

The civil engineer said they hoped the plaza would include a stairway leading to the rail trail, but the New Hampshire Department of Transportation denied the request because it is trying to limit the number of access points.

Board member Linda Harvey, who has helped lead the rail trail project, said she liked the redevelopment plan but constructing a stairway to the trail would have been ideal.

"It is unfortunate they said no to more access down there," she said. "It screams for it."

Michael Lyons, the selectmen's representative to the board, agreed.

"It is a shame we couldn't get the stairway," he said. "I can see a lot of foot traffic going between the two projects."

Moldoff and board members said they were generally satisfied with the project.

"This would be a huge improvement over what we have," Moldoff said. "I think we ought to encourage them to move forward in redeveloping the site."

The planning director also praised TEC's projects in Andover, Lowell, Haverhill and Hampton Beach. 

"I think it looks great," board member Ronald Belanger said.


By Doug Ireland  •  March 16, 2016  •  The Eagle Tribune  •  Original Article