The City of Dover’s Cochecho Waterfront Development Advisory Committee (CWDAC) voted unanimously this month to approve a site plan by Boston-based real estate developer Cathartes to build on the city-owned parcel that borders the Cochecho River.

The 23-acre parcel is bordering Washington Street in Dover. The plans proposed by Cathartes would include building five buildings, townhouses, and a public park.

Committee member Sean Fitzgerald began by reminding the committee of the September 15 meeting where Cathartes reported that had discovered site limitations due to unstable soils on the hill above the waterfront.

In the meeting, Jeff Johnstone and Rob Simmons of Cathartes presented a revised concept plan for the parcels. Due to the environmental assessment that revealed unstable soils, they pivoted to design around the city conditions and take advantage of the flat waterfront area.

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Cathartes proposed to move buildings towards the commercial storefront area and create viewsheds between the buildings to draw visitors toward the waterfront area.

Initially, the buildings were planned to be isolated from the waterfront. Simmons said they had a “eureka moment” and said the development should support the commercial activity around the waterfront, instead of being separate. This would also create a small plaza park towards the waterfront. The ultimate goal would be to prioritize pedestrian conductivity, connecting the new site with previous walking areas.

In addition to the park and walking areas, the plan also includes covered parking lots, townhouses, and buildings that can be used as office, retail, or restaurant spaces.

Committee chair Dana Lynch reminded the council of the original goals for the area, which included a mixed-use environment that capitalizes on the unique waterfront and adjacent residential, business and recreational space. Said member Kyle Pimental: “While it deviates from original plan, to me this layout is an improvement and better creates a sense of place and allows commercial activity to interact with the park.”

Cathartes will now begin designing engineering site plans to be reviewed by CWDAC and the Dover Planning Board before being presented at a future public hearing. Further details on the concept plans can be found on the City of Dover’s website.

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