DERRY — The future of the Pinkerton Tavern is a bit closer to being resolved after the town struck a deal with the restaurant's proprietors.
Town Administrator John Anderson said the town agreed to pay business owners Guy Streitburger and Jen Lutzen $305,000 in relocation costs to help the pair vacate the popular restaurant at 13 Manchester Road by March 15.
The tavern was one of 15 properties standing in the way of the town's Route 28 widening project from the Crystal Avenue/Tsienneto Road intersection up toward Ashleigh Drive.
In 2006, councilors approved a tax increment financing, or TIF, district to widen that portion of the crowded roadway. Deals with affected property owners were negotiated, some by permanent right of way, others by temporary slopes or easements.
But the Pinkerton Tavern proved to be tricky, sitting so close to the road and more complicated a deal.
Streitburger and Lutzen have operated the tavern since 2002, leasing space from building owner Arnold Goldstein.
The town's dealings with Goldstein were a separate transaction, falling under an eventual eminent domain proceeding. A final value for the building and land will be determined by the Board of Land and Tax Appeals, as per eminent domain law.
Goldstein and Lutzen attended several council meetings throughout the process. Lutzen said not having a deal made it hard for her business.
"It's been frustrating," she said. "This project has affected our business, our customers and our ability to make business decisions."
Anderson said the town made some mistakes along the way, and the process impacted the restaurant as negotiations moved forward. He said he wanted to make sure Derry remained a goodwill supporter of everyone associated with the tavern and that Lutzen expressed hopes of possibly staying in the area once the tavern closed its doors.
Several options remain as to what might happen to the historic Pinkerton Tavern, Anderson said. Those options could include an auction, or someone may buy the building and move it.
"That would be the best-case scenario," he said.
For many, the worst potential outcome would be to raze the entire building.
Pinkerton Tavern was built in stages between 1735 and 1816, according to town historian Richard Holmes. Elder James Pinkerton operated an early store there. In 1814, Pinkerton and his brother John provided funding for Pinkerton Academy.
In a recent column in the Derry News, Holmes said he would hate to see the building demolished.
"For this historian, the building's destruction would be a real tragedy which future generations will lament," he said.
Anderson said he hopes bids can go out this winter for the Route 28 project, with work to begin later in the year. With a proposed super Walmart planned for that area, along with other retail stores considering a move to Derry, exciting times are ahead, he said.
"There's a lot of action happening up there on Manchester Road," he said. "(And this is) one piece of the puzzle falling into place."
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