Tuscan Village Brings Modern Retail to Boston’s Steadily Expanding Northern Corridor

by Alex Tostado

In Salem, New Hampshire, work is underway to construct Tuscan Village, a 2.8 million-square-foot mixed-use project anticipated to meet the growing demands of the area.  The center, located on a 170-acre site about 30 miles north of Boston, just over the state line, has grown in recent years as the Boston market steadily expands northward. While the corridor along Interstate 95 has steadily developed, the corridor northward along Interstate 495 has been relatively underdeveloped, as has the area along Interstate 93. Just to the north of the juncture of I-93 and I-495 and equidistant between Boston and Concord lies Salem, home to Tuscan Village.

“The town of Salem and the state of New Hampshire have been very receptive to this development,” says Michael Powers, senior vice president of leasing for Tuscan Brands, the developer of the center. “It has been a very cooperative relationship. The state now considers this project the Gateway to New Hampshire. The mixed-use nature of the project provides opportunity for not only retail growth, but office, medical, residential and hospitality uses.”

The area has experienced a strong economy over the past decade, creating a good opportunity for merchandising the center. The center has about 1.2 million people within a 30-minute drive time. With nearly 3 million square feet of space, Tuscan Village will become a compelling civic hub for the area.

Tuscan Village will be a large-scale project, designed to create a hub for the surrounding community. Medical office and retail uses play heavily into that role.

“From an office perspective, we are seeing a lot of interest from companies who are seeking a lower cost option in a no state income tax area with less traffic, given the reverse commute,” says Powers.

The immediate trade area has an average annual household income of approximately $112,000 with strong education levels. Tuscan Village will contain about 1 million square feet of office space and 950 residential units. A medical center campus and two hotels will also be part of the project. The project will have about 800,000 square feet of retail space.

“Retailers today are very particular about the environment they will open stores in and how many stores they will open in a given radius,” says Powers. “Understanding these propensities, it was critical to put together a programing strategy that focused on retailers and restaurants that were relevant to the market today. Tuscan Village will be unique; a destination focused on place making and customer experiences.”

As such, Tuscan Brands is working to create an atmosphere that doesn’t exist elsewhere in the market. The center’s central design theme is inspired by old world urban development and traditional surroundings like including lush landscaping, pocket parks and a robust calendar of civic events.

“We’re really seeking to be aspirational as well as experiential,” says Powers. “The design has resonated well with the market.”

The first phase of the project, comprising 50 acres and known as the North Village, was completed in 2019. North Village is anchored by an 80,000-square-foot Market Basket grocery store, and Homesense, a home décor concepts from TJX Companies. Also in North Village are The Villas, a 96-unit for-sale condominium project, Corsa, a 156-unit luxury rental apartment complex, and a brand new Ford automobile dealership. The second phase, comprising 120 acres, is now under construction. Known as South Village, the area will have the majority of the retail and restaurants at Tuscan Village along a lakefront setting. The lake will serve as the main focal point for Tuscan Village. A 15,000-square-foot L.L. Bean will also anchor South Village. The L.L. Bean store will be the only one in the retailer’s portfolio that sits directly on a body of water. L.L. Bean plans to use the Tuscan Lake to its advantage, offering fly fishing demonstrations; kayaking; canoeing; and paddle boarding on the lake. To date, other retailers announced include ULTA, Tuscan Market, Old Navy, Drive Custom Fit, JP Morgan Chase Bank, Chipotle, Beach Plum and Pressed Café.

Tuscan Brands is working to create an atmosphere that doesn’t exist elsewhere in the market. Lush landscaping and pocket parks add to the project’s attractions.

Entertainment, Food and beverage and home furnishings have been a key focus of the leasing team.

Separately on the property, Hanover Companies is developing a 281-unit apartment complex scheduled to open later this year and Partner’s Healthcare has announced a medical office building to anchor the projects main entrance on Rockingham Park Boulevard.

Given its sheer size and complexity, Tuscan Village will continue to open in stages.  The South Village is planned to open by in March 2021 with the office and additional retail phases opening in 2022.

— By Randall Shearin. This article originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of Shopping Center Business.

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