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Sea Spray Condos Going up at Hampton Beach

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, October 12, 2012

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Sea Spray condos going up at Hampton Beach

HAMPTON — After 13 years and several legal battles, construction is finally under way at the Sea Spray Condominiums project, which will take up the vacant lots where the Old Salt restaurant and other Hampton Beach businesses used to stand.

Jones & Beach Engineers Inc. in Stratham designed and obtained approval for the Green & Company project at 83-91 Ocean Boulevard in Hampton.

This mixed-use project — scheduled to be completed by the spring of 2013 — consists of retail condominiums on the first floor and 36 residential condominiums on the next three floors.

Kara Schaake, one of three realtors for the project, said 22 of the 36 condominiums have already been sold for $229,000 to $399,000.

The six retail stores on the first floor have also sold after being billed as the first new commercial space at the beach in 25 years.

For nearby business owners, the project is seen as a blessing.

“I’m relieved,” said Tom McGuirk of McGuirk’s Restaurant, which abuts the property. “It’s been a long time coming and it’s been 13 summers of looking at vacant property.”

McGuirk said recent investments by the state to construct a bathroom facility at the south end, as well as improvements with parking and lighting, have once again attracted people to the south end.

Prior to that McGuirk said people would turn around at J Street, thinking they were entering a depressed or inactive part of the beach.

“The new building going up will obviously help attracting more people,” said McGuirk, who noted there will no longer be a “large gap.”

“It will be a continuation of our commercial district.”

The property became vacant after a devastating 1999 fire that destroyed the Old Salt Eating and Drinking Place (which ended up relocating to downtown Hampton) and the Beachwalk Enterprises.

What is believed to have started as a trash fire on June 16, 1999 at 2:40 p.m. quickly spread to engulf the restaurant and the other buildings that housed Cecile’s Gift Shop, Lexie’s Pizzeria, Haven’s Cafe and six apartment units.

Aided by a strong westerly wind, the fire then spread to Springfield Motor Lodge. More than 200 firefighters from 23 communities responded to the blaze, and it took more than four hours to get it under control.

The property has been used as a parking lot for the last 13 summers, while the redevelopment project was put on hold because of litigation.

Abutters, led by Michael Scanlan, fought against the project, which was first to be known as the Majestic, then the Breckenridge. The case reached the state Supreme Court.

In opposing the project, Scanlan and other abutters cited the size of the complex, the impact on property values, traffic in the area and claimed the project didn’t fit the Hampton Beach master plan. Scanlan no longer owns the abutting property.

While developers won their legal battle in 2007, construction was held up because of the struggling economy.

The new project was less dense than what had been proposed and there was more of a buffer between the proposed project and neighboring properties. No one objected to the project when it went before the zoning and planning boards earlier this year.

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