---- — The opening of the new Walmart superstore and several other retailers is a boost for Derry’s Route 28/Manchester Road expansion project. Now is the time for town leaders to press their advantage and try to attract more development in the area.
New retail development was one of the major goals of the Route 28 widening project. Town leaders hoped the improved infrastructure would lure new businesses to the Manchester Road/Ashleigh Drive area.
Mega-retailer Walmart opted to expand and yesterday opened its new superstore at 11 Ashleigh Drive. The new store has 300 employees and features an expanded grocery section with more produce, frozen foods and a bakery. Inside the store is a Subway shop and a Service Credit Union branch.
The old Walmart at 30 Manchester Road was sold to discount retailer Ocean State Job Lot and will close after the new store opens.
Town planners worked with Walmart representatives over the past year to be sure the new store had a New Hampshire feel. Planners asked the company to incorporate native materials in its design, including New Hampshire granite for the building’s exterior facade.
“I think people are very excited,” store manager Corey Skinner told reporter Julie Huss.
In addition to the new Walmart, several new retailers have opened along the expanded highway.
The Pinkerton Place plaza at 17 Manchester Road is home to Panera Bread, Goodwill and Woof Meow Family Pet Center. The Panera restaurant opened in July.
Known for its artisan bread, the bakery-cafe is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The location also features a drive-through option for takeout orders, an outdoor seating area, a fireplace and free Wi-Fi.
The restaurant offers a full catering menu. The menu features antibiotic-free chicken, whole grain bread, organic and all-natural ingredients. At the end of each business day, Panera Bread donates all unsold bread and baked goods to local food pantries and soup kitchens.
The expansion of Route 28/Manchester Road is proceeding on schedule, helped by favorable weather throughout the summer. The project, which involves the widening of Route 28 from the intersection of Tsienneto up past Ashleigh Drive is scheduled to be completed in November.
“We are on budget and on schedule,” Public Works Director Mike Fowler said in August. “Things have gone very well.”
The Route 28 expansion has been a major economic development initiative for Derry. Good progress has been made so far. Town leaders must strive to keep the momentum going and continue to bring new businesses into the area.
That isn’t easy to do with the economy struggling to make any headway out of the recession. But success breeds success. The opening of new businesses such as Walmart, Panera, Goodwill and Woof Meow Pet Center along the revamped roadway can be the town’s strongest selling point.
These new and expanded retailers provide jobs to the community and add to Derry’s tax base. Encouraging further growth here is vital to the town’s future.