Publication: Fosters
Author: Casey Conley

The developer behind a mixed-use plan on the former McIntosh College site offered new details Wednesday night on the estimated $40 million project.

City Councilors apparently liked what they heard, voting unanimously to advance a “term sheet” with developer VMD Companies to a public hearing on Aug. 12. Provisions in the term sheet will be used in a legally binding development agreement between the city and the developer.

The council discussion on the plan to redevelop the former Robbins Block on Washington Street was delayed until a future meeting.

Councilors began the evening with a workshop focused on Silver Square, which is proposed at 181 Silver St. in the former McIntosh College culinary school. The unanimous vote to advance the measure occurred a special council meeting immediately afterward.

The project calls for removing the vacant former college structures and building a 75-unit assisted living facility as the anchor. A hotel, medical office building, bank branch and coffee shop-restaurant also are planned for the 19-acre property. The project could be built in phases or all at once depending on demand and other factors.

Dover Economic Development Director Dan Barufaldi said the total cost of the project if fully built is estimated at nearly $40 million.

Under the term sheet, VMD Companies would build a roundabout at the intersection of Silver Street, Route 155, Silver Street Extension and the Spaulding Turnpike on-ramp. Once the assisted living facility is finished and ready for residents, the city would reimburse the company $1 million for building the roundabout.

The term sheet stipulates annual property taxes on the property will be large enough to repay the city’s $1 million bond over five years. That provision would remain in place for seven years.

The roundabout has long been planned for that area, and it is currently projected to be built within six years. City Manager Mike Joyal said this agreement gets the roundabout built sooner and creates a revenue stream to pay for it.

James Vitas, a principal in VMD Cos., said the company has heard good things about the project from potential users, including potential hotel, assisted living and retail partners.

“The feedback … has been great. We do have multiple interested parties now and we are working with them to bring this to fruition.” he said.

VMD Cos., which is based in North Andover, Mass., has completed apartment and commercial projects in Florida. It also has projects in various development stages in Connecticut and Nashua and Portsmouth. Vitas would not identify the company’s project in Portsmouth.

Silver Square is still in the early development phase, but the term sheet is considered a critical first step. The project still must go through development review by the planning board.

If all goes well, construction could begin next year, and he first structures finished 12 to 18 months later.

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