Cochecho Waterfront Development

Waterfront

Development Updates

May 2024

City sells three waterfront parcels for development's first phase

In another milestone in the long-planned Waterfront Development Project, the City of Dover sold three waterfront parcels to the developer, Cathartes, on Friday, May 31, for $1,316,751.58, as part of the first phase of the site's development.

The parcels are Lot 1-4, Lot 1-5, and Lot 1-6 and encompass more than five acres of 29-acre site. These parcels include the property within the River Street loop road and one parcel on the other side of River Street that borders Seaport Way, noted on the plans as buildings C, D and E.

The sale allows Cathartes to begin constructing its buildings, working alongside the city's contractor making the public improvements to the site. The city is responsible for creating streets, installing utilities, getting sites ready for development, and making the public park.

The private development plan includes constructing three mixed-use buildings, two multi-family buildings, and three clusters of townhouses. The Planning Board approved Cathartes' site plans in June 2022, which include mixed-use developments with approximately 26,000 square feet of commercial space and 418 residential units.

The money from the land sale will be used to pay the bond payment of the Waterfront Tax Increment Financing District (TIF), along with increased valuations from the private development improvements. The bond is funding the public improvements to the site, including roads, utilities and the public park.

Sale process began in 2017

Selling the city's waterfront property is decades in the making, with many steps along the way to make the sale possible, such as relocating the wastewater treatment plant from the site to Middle Road.

The sale of land last week began in September 2017 when the Cochechco Waterfront Development Advisory Committee (CDWAC) sought to identify developers qualified to construct a mixed-use development at the waterfront. The committee then sent a request for proposals to the six qualified developers in March 2018, receiving two responses. After CWDAC held a public interview process, the committee voted in June 2018 to designate Cathartes as the preferred private developer of the project.

After an initial agreement, the City Council authorized the City Manager to negotiate a Land Disposition and Development Agreement with Cathartes, spelling out plan details and sale of properties, which was signed on Sept. 30, 2019. Since then, four amendments were made to the agreement, including extending deadlines after the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The sale of the property is recorded in the Strafford County's Registry of Deeds in Book 5188, Page 21.

February 2024

Mild winter accelerates site work for waterfront development

The transformation of land into the Cochecho Waterfront Development at Washington and River streets continues at a rapid pace, and the building of the first phase of private developments is on the horizon.

The relatively mild winter and lack of snow have helped these efforts, with crews from Northeast Earth Mechanics working on multiple fronts daily at the site: stabilizing the shoreline, building the public roadways, and installing the associated utilities, while also readying Pad C and D for private developer Cathartes to begin its construction, anticipated to start this spring. The installation of utilities includes water, sewer and a drainage system that includes a bioretention system that treats stormwater in its place, as well as installing electrical conduit and duct banks.

Shoreline stabilization

The shoreline stabilization is time-sensitive, as this work needs to cease by mid-March so as not to interfere with the spring salmon run. The stabilization requires crews to build a toe wall that borders the Cochecho River, which will retain soils from flowing into the river when completed. To build the wall, crews utilize metal sheathing to build a coffer dam to protect works from the river’s tidal waters. Much of the stone utilized for the wall is repurposed from the old stone wall by Fish Ladder Park, rebuilt in 2018. Once completed, the toe wall will extend to near the Makem Bridge on Washington Street.

September 2023

The Cochecho Waterfront Development Advisory Committee, at its Sept. 26 meeting, voted unanimously to give the green light to its design consultant, CJ Architects, to finalize pavilion plans and ready them for construction bidding.

At the meeting, Carla Goodnight, principal of CJ Architects, gave a presentation about the park pavilion, providing an overview of the design and the different elements incorporated. The renderings of the design can be reviewed below. 

As of now, the pavilion design includes space for boat storage and a vendor, such as for kayak rentals. There would also be a public gathering space, recreation spaces, and bathrooms. CWDAC’s park pavilion subcommittee has been working with CJ Architects for the past year on what elements to be included in the final design and the site work and the foundation for the park pavilion would be included in the ongoing public improvements to the waterfront site.

To review the presentation from CJ Architects, click here

The CWDAC also received a presentation at their Sept. 26 meeting from Cathartes, the private developer, about the minor adjustments they have made in their plans, and an update on the ongoing public improvements at the waterfront site since construction began in June 2023.

Click here to watch the meeting.

Spring 2023 Updates

Numerous actions have been taken in April and May of 2023 regarding the development of the city-owned riverfront parcel on River Street. Here’s a summary of some of the recent actions.

  • The firm the City Council awarded the public improvements bid, Northeast Earth Mechanics, Inc., had its first logistics meeting with city staff last week to discuss the project, the timeline, restrictions, and potential schedule. A subsequent meeting will be held in the coming weeks where Northeast Earth Mechanics is expected to provide its preliminary schedule of how it plans to complete the various phases of the public improvements associated with the project.
  • Public improvements include constructing a new street system to provide site access and the utilities necessary to serve the building to be built by the private developer. Other improvements include the construction of a new 3.4-acre public riverfront park, stabilizing the Cochecho River shoreline, grading the elevation to account for projected sea level rise, and installing a stormwater management system with green infrastructure. The City Council also authorized additional bonding for the project, as the bids came in higher than anticipated.
  • The city plans to upgrade the River Street pump station next to the waterfront site. The pump station, nearing its 30th year, coveys about 80% of the city’s wastewater and needs upgrades. The City Council recently approved amending its contract with Wright-Pierce to complete design work for the upgrades.
  • The City Council also amended its agreement with developer Cathartes, through its business entity CPI Management, LLC, regarding the project. The amended agreement includes increasing the guaranteed minimum assessed property values for the project. It was also updated to reflect the amount the city is providing for public improvements, including the work to the pump station. The timeline for the private developments was also updated and details how the developer may withdraw from later phases of the project.

City Council selects contractor for public improvements

The City of Dover released its bid for public improvements to the waterfront development site to the four firms the city prequalified in 2022. After it failed to receive any bids, it was rebid in 2023. 

Public improvements include constructing a new street system to provide site access and the utilities necessary to serve the proposed buildings. Other improvements include the construction of a new 3.4-acre public riverfront park, stabilization of the Cochecho River shoreline, site grading to raise the elevation to account for projected sea level rise, and installing a stormwater management system with green infrastructure. Depending on the cost of the bids received, the city may elect to upgrade aspects of the public park in phases.

NorthEast Earth Mechanics, LLC., of Pittsfield, was selected as the winning bidder in April 2023. 

The city’s contracted consultant team wrote the bid specifications based on their design for the public portion of the project. The team includes Horsley Witten Group., Inc., of Sandwich, Massachusetts, Ironwood Design Group of Newmarket and GZA of Bedford. The design was vetted by the Cochecho Waterfront Development Advisory Committee (CDWAC) and approved by the Planning Board on June 14, 2022.

As part of the Land Development Agreement between the City of Dover and Cathartes, the developer selected for private developments to the site, the city agreed to fund public improvements to be repaid through tax guarantees. The city will service the bond for the debt by utilizing funds from the waterfront tax increment finance district (TIF).

Cathartes’ CWDAC-vetted site plan for the private development of the waterfront was also approved by the Planning Board last year. Construction for the private development is anticipated to begin next year once portions of the public improvements are completed. Cathartes plans to build three mixed-use buildings, two multi-family buildings and three clusters of townhouses. The buildings include 418 residential units and approximately 26,000 square feet of commercial space. The residential units include a mixture of rental and for-sale condominium units.

Planning Board Approves Cathartes Site Plan and City Public Improvements Plan

The long-planned waterfront development took a significant step towards reality on June 14, 2022 when the Planning Board approved applications from the developer and the City of Dover to develop city-owned land on River Street.

The developer, Cathartes, received conditional approval for a site plan to build three mixed-use buildings, two multi-family buildings and three clusters of townhouses.  The buildings include 418 residential units and approximately 26,000 square feet of commercial space. The residential units include a mixture of rental units and for sale condominium units. A colored rendering of the Cathartes site plan and the architectural renderings of the proposed buildings can be viewed here.

The City public improvements plan included the construction of a new street system to provide access to the site, along with the utilities necessary to serve the proposed buildings. Other improvements include the construction of a new 3.4-acre public riverfront park, plans to stabilize the Cochecho River shoreline, site grading to raise the elevation to account for projected sea level rise and the installation of a storm water management system with green infrastructure. A colored rendering of the City public improvements site plan can be viewed here. The Planning Board also approved the City’s subdivision application to subdivide the land to create three new lots and a street right of way.

Prior to the Planning Board meeting, the Technical Review Committee (TRC) completed their review of the Cathartes project on May 5. The Cathartes site plan also received the endorsement from the Cochecho Waterfront Development Advisory Committee (CWDAC) on May 17. The City of Dover’s waterfront park and public improvements also received TRC and CWDAC endorsements.

 Overall Site Plan of the waterfront development featuring structures along the cocheco river

Cathartes Overall Site Plan

Progress on Environmental Permitting

DES Alteration of Terrain Permit

On March 15, 2022 DES staff approved the NH DES Alteration of Terrain (AOT) Permit. The AOT permit covers all of the site grading and storm water designs being proposed on the property.

Wetlands Permit

On June 16, 2022, the NH Department of Environmental Services Wetlands Bureau issued the Wetlands Permit approval letter. Prior to making that decision, DES held a public hearing on the application on May 5, 2022. The Governor and Executive Council approved the application at their meeting on Aug. 17, 2022.

Remedial Action Plan for Waterfront

On July 7, 2022 the Remedial Action Plan (RAP) was conditionally approved by the Hazardous Waste Remediation Bureau of NHDES. As part of the redevelopment of the waterfront property, the City and its consultant, GZA, had developed a plan to address the contamination that remains on the site even after years of environmental remediation measures. The application was submitted to the NHDES in June of 2020. The RAP recommends a combination of measures to ensure control of contaminants such that there will be no adverse effect to human health or the environment. 

CWDAC Grants Conditional Approval for Cathartes Development Plans

The Cochecho Waterfront Development Advisory Committee (CWDAC) provided conditional approval to the Carthartes’ development plans at its meeting on August 31, 2021, allowing the project to move forward to Planning Board review.

The development plans include site plans and architectural renderings. CWDAC also recommended the project receive a Conditional Use Permit from the Planning Board for building heights exceeding 55 feet, which is the maximum for that district. 

The approval includes the condition for Cathartes, the City of Dover’s planning and recreation staff, and the CWDAC’s Park Planning Subcommittee to work diligently and closely with the paddlesports community to ensure cooperation in any future plans for the design, permitting and construction for a paddle sports facility and to create an access plan to the Cochecho River paddle sports dock, to the greatest extent possible, during the period of project construction. 

The development process now moves to the Planning Board for review, including initial review by the Planning Board’s Technical Review Committee (TRC), once Cathartes submits their complete site review application.

CWDAC will continue to meet to work on the paddle sports facility and environmental permitting.

Architectural Rendering of Buildings B & C by Embarc Studios

Architectural Rendering of Buildings C & D by Embarc Studios

Architectural Renderings Presented by Cathartes - April 2021

At the CWDAC meeting held on April 20, 2021, representatives from Cathartes presented a series of architectural renderings of proposed buildings and streetscapes. These drawings were prepared by the architectural firm of Embarc Studios of Boston. The plans showed several perspectives of the three mixed use buildings proposed along River Street, the condominium building on the east end of the property and the townhomes that will be built on the interior section. Below are two of the architectural renderings. Click here if you would like to view all of the renderings presented at the meeting. 

Building C

Plaza

Concept Plan Update Approved by CWDAC

During a meeting held on January 19, 2021, CWDAC was presented with a revised concept plan for the waterfront by Jeff Johnstone and Rob Simmons of Cathartes. This revised concept plan was the product of numerous discussions with CWDAC and four separate meetings with the CWDAC Phase 2 Sub-committee held during 2020.  The plan highlights include three mixed use buildings with a total of 291 residential units and 30,000 square feet of commercial space, a 59-unit apartment building, a 40-unit condominium building and 23 townhouses. There are 159 covered parking spaces and 359 surface parking spaces. 

After careful consideration, CWDAC voted unanimously to approve the revised concept plan. This step will allow Cathartes to begin the preparation of detailed engineered site plans that will be reviewed by CWDAC prior to being submitted to the Dover Planning Board to begin the Dover Technical Review Committee (TRC) process. Once the plans have been revised to address the TRC comments, the site plan will be presented to the Planning Board at a future public hearing. 

The following plans are included in the concept plan:

  • A site plan of the complete site prepared by EMBARC (click here)
  • A Site Circulation Diagram prepared by EMBARC (click here)
  • A rendering aerial view of the site facing south/southwest prepared by EMBARC (click here)
  • An architectural rendering ground level perspective of the Cochecho River prepared by EMBARC (click here)

CPI Rendering

Land Disposition and Development Agreement Approved

Following the approval of the term sheet, the CWDAC, the City and the Developer entered into negotiations for the final land disposition and development agreement, based upon the terms outlined in the term sheet. The term sheet required that negotiations be complete by September 30, 2019. At a meeting on September 24, 2019, CWDAC voted unanimously to approve the agreement and recommended that the Dover Housing Authority and the Dover City Manager execute the agreement. Earlier that same day, the Commissioners of the Dover Housing Authority (DHA) voted to approve the Development Agreement and authorize the Executive Director to sign said agreement on behalf of the DHA. 

The executed version of the Development Agreement, signed on September 30, 2019, including exhibits, is here. | A summary of the agreement is here.

On December 17, 2019 CWDAC voted to approve an amendment to the Development Agreement to extend the time period for the submission of phase 1 site plan to the Planning Board to January 31, 2020. The amendment was requested by Cathartes on December 10, 2019. The approved Development Agreement amendment is here.

On June 16, 2020 CWDAC voted to approve a second amendment to the Development Agreement to extend the time period for the submission of the updated phase 2 concept plan for CWDAC's approval to March 31, 2021. The approved Development Agreement amendment #2 is here.

Term Sheet Approved and Signed

After being selected as the preferred developer for the waterfront in June of 2018, Cathartes undertook various steps in the due diligence process. That included negotiations with the City to come to agreement on the terms of the development. The result was a five page document called the term sheet. The term sheet was approved by the Cochecho Waterfront Development Advisory Committee at a meeting on January 29, 2019.  On February 19, 2019 the term sheet was approved by the Dover Housing Authority Board of Directors. The following week on February 27, 2019 the City Council voted to approve a resolution approving the term sheet and authorizing the City Manager to negotiate and finalize a development agreement.

Below are some highlights of the term sheet:

  • Purchase price: $3,372,500
  • Mixed Use Development to include multi-family residential, retail and office, restaurant, and hotel
  • Total size of the proposed buildings: 500,000 square feet
  • 475 multi-family residential units or hotel rooms
  • 25,000 square feet of street level commercial/restaurant space and 60,000 square foot hotel
  • Site plan approval process to begin by end of 2019
  • City to use $6.6 million in Tax Increment Financing funding to complete public improvements: bluff excavation, site grading, shoreline stabilization, waterfront park, streets and public utilities

Cochecho Waterfront Development Request for Proposals - 2018

The CWDAC and the City issued an RFP on March 28, 2018 to the three developers that were selected after the RFQ process. Two developers elected to submit responses to the RFP.

Request for Proposals, March 28, 2018

Requests for proposals were received on May 24, 2018. They are as follows:

After a public interview process CWDAC voted on June 19, 2018 to designate Cathartes as the preferred developer.

Cochecho Waterfront Development Request for Qualifications - 2017

The Cochecho Waterfront Development Advisory Committee and the City issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) on Sept. 29, 2017 to identify developers qualified to propose and implement a mixed-use development of the 29-acre City-owned Cochecho riverfront property.

The RFQ and related information can be viewed here:

Request for Qualifications, September 2017 (B18005)

On December 6, 2017, CWDAC received the following 6 responses:

All six developers that responded were interviewed by CWDAC during the second week of January, 2018. On January 16, 2018 CWDAC voted to invite Cathartes, Chinburg Properties and Summit to move onto the the RFP process.

Bluff Excavation

The bluff excavation is an integral part of the plans to lower the elevation of the bluff area and prepare the waterfront site east of River Street for future development.

The City hired Severino Trucking Company as the contractor to remove a portion of the bluff on the waterfront parcel after undergoing an RFQ process. In March of 2017, the Dover City Council approved a resolution to enter into a contract with Severino Trucking after that firm was recommended by CWDAC. A neighborhood meeting was held prior to the start of blasting of the bluff.

In November of 2017, the permits required from the state and federal permitting agencies were obtained. This allowed the work on the removal of a 3.7 acre portion of the bluff to begin in early December of 2017. Tree clearing began the first week of December and the excavation of the soil layer above the bedrock began a week after that. The soil was trucked to Maglaras Park and placed on the slope north of the dredge cell.  The blasting of the bedrock began in January of 2018.

Later in 2018, the City decided to expand the bluff removal footprint to provide an additional 16,000 square feet for waterfront development. The expanded bluff removal will provide added flexibility for the location of buildings and 17,500 cubic yards of construction material that the City can use to build roads and install utilities on site. The rock will be processed by Severino Trucking into several sizes of material and stockpiled on site. The City Council approved a resolution for the funding for the additional work on November 14, 2018.

As part of the bluff removal expansion, the City applied for and received an amended Alteration of Terrain Permit from the NH Department of Environmental Services on December 19, 2018.

The blasting on the bluff began in August of 2018 after taking the summer off. In March the blasting ceased again for environmental reasons. This project is anticipated to be completed by the end of September, 2019. 

Here are two aerial photographs of the bluff excavation. The first was taken during the blasting phase in 2018. The second is from June of 2019.

bluff excavation

drone shot of bluff

Cochecho Waterfront Development Design Guidelines

The CWDAC adopted updated Design Guidelines to establish standards for the visual quality of the design and subsequent development of the Dover Waterfront along the Cochecho River. The guidelines were approved by CWDAC on Sept. 19, 2017.

The Design Guidelines can be viewed here:

CWDAC Design Guidelines, September 2017

Paddle Sports Dock Completed

As part of the development of a waterfront park along the riverfront area, a public dock for various paddle sports was constructed and was opened to the public on June 1st of 2018. The dock is designed to accommodate canoes, kayaks and crew boats and is fully compliant with American with Disabilities Act accessibility standards.

After conducting a competitive bid process, the City Council voted on December 13, 2017 to award the bid for construction and installation of the dock to a Vermont company – The Dock Doctors. The City Council also approved acceptance of a generous donation of $19,000 from the Great Bay Rowing Club to help pay for the dock.

According to Gary Bannon, Dover’s Recreation Director, the dock has been very popular and is used by many residents and visitors. Below are some pictures of the new dock.

waterfront dock picture

waterfront dock picture 1

Committee Work Ongoing

The Cochecho Waterfront Development Advisory Committee continues to work to develop the City's waterfront property along the Cochecho River. After an initial development plan was withdrawn by a developer in August of 2014, the committee has met to look at other development options. That process includes regular meetings and public feedback.

To facilitate up-to-date information about the committee's work, several new tools are available for those interested in learning more about the process or to communicate with the group.

A waterfront development newsletter is now available. This newsletter includes more detailed and updated information about the committee's work and meetings, proposals and other topics of interest. To sign up to receive the newsletter, click here, or e-mail City Planner Steve Bird.

The newsletters are archived and available below.

In addition, this page will be updated with information as the committee continues to pursue development options.

For more information about the Cochecho Waterfront Development Advisory Committee, visit the committee page here.

Waterfront Development Newsletter Archive

Contact Us

Have a question or want to share your thoughts with the City and Cochecho Waterfront Development Advisory Committee? Use the form below to send along your comments. If you would like to be contacted, please include your contact information.

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Waterfront Development: A Timeline

On February 9, 2005 the City Council established the Cochecho Waterfront Development Advisory Committee (CWDAC) and delegated the task of the waterfront redevelopment to the Dover Housing Authority (DHA).  The CWDAC was responsible for reviewing all aspects of the City's River Street parcel redevelopment and facilitating a plan for developing the lot as a multi-faceted destination point, offering recreational, economic and quality of life opportunities for everyone.

City-owned Parcel Ripe for Development

The approximately 29-acre waterfront parcel is located on River Street. Formerly the parcel played host to a City Farm, a wastewater treatment plant, school bus storage, the City's Recycling center, and the public works building. Significant community investments have cleared the way to make this unique property ripe for development.

Parcel has Rich History

The City's River Street parcel was once a lively trading center with wharfs, warehouses, docks, and trading ships from many parts of the world. Over time, ships were replaced by railroads and the automobile leaving the parcel to become blighted and neglected. During the past three decades, the City has embarked on a campaign to redevelop and revitalize this area.

Location

The parcel is located adjacent to Downtown Dover. It fronts along the Cochecho River, and abuts two City-owned parks, Maglaras Park, to the south) and Henry Law Park to the west. The parcel is located off Henry Law Avenue on River Street.

Active Public Participation

The CWDAC engaged in an extensive series of public meetings and hearings since 2005.  The public meetings were held to further define design parameters for development of the area, and solicit public input. 

Additionally, there will be continued opportunities for the public to be part of the planning and permitting for the development of the parcel.  

Next Steps

On September 3rd, 2014, CWDAC presented an update to the City Council. View the presentation

At its meeting of October 20, 2014, CWDAC review the constraints and opportunities of the parcel. View the presentation

In February of 2015 a market analysis of the property was completed for CWDAC by Abramson and Associates.