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DOVER, NH-After a two-year negotiation, this aging mill city has approved a $65-million mixed-use venture that developer Mark Dickinson pledges will extend the downtown and generate direct revenues to town coffers of nearly $30 million over the next two decades. More importantly, says the founder of Quincy, MA-based Dickinson Development Corp., the blend of 180 housing units, office space and retail aims to open access to the Cocheco River, which he notes played a critical role in Dover’s creation as a once-thriving economic center here abutting southern Maine.

“We are making a strong statement about the synergy of the downtown and the waterfront,” says Dickinson, whose 21-acre Dover Landing calls for an esplanade, open areas and walking trails. “Ultimately, our vision is to transform this underutilized land into a vibrant new neighborhood that will greatly enhance the quality of life for Dover residents and visitors for generations to come.”

Besides a cash payment of $1 million to the city, Dickinson is providing $3.6 million in site improvements to clean up a former DPW maintenance lot and build the riverfront park. The park will be complete with piers and moorings for excursion boats to help enthusiasts access the peripatetic waterway.

The design was provided by Sheskey Architects of Quincy, MA, and intertwines multiple housing styles among 67,000-sf of commercial space that will accommodate offices, restaurants and stores. The footprint is to be built out over five years using a “parcelization” platform that allows flexibility in delivery of space to match market demand. Residential units will range from typical townhouses to “vertical ownership” units above retail. There will also be “flats style” residences in multi-story buildings featuring elevators and interior parking.

“All are varied in architectural styles and materials that are designed to reflect the character of Dover,” says Dickinson, whose design patterns some space after Dover’s 19th century Merchants Row Building. A new vehicular bridge will also be constructed to connect the key thoroughfare of Washington St. with the park, residences and commercial space.

Despite the intricacies and infrastructure required to make Dover Landing work, Dickinson expressed confidence about the long-term success of the initiative, one that his firm says could generate $1 billion in real estate taxes if fully constructed. Having recently converted a landfill in Reading, MA, into a multi-faceted lifestyle center featuring a Jordan’s Furniture and Home Depot, Dickinson notes that his firm has experience tackling complex assignments. That project did win a national award for the engineers, Haley & Aldrich, credited with solving an environmental dilemma that had kept the site unused for more than 30 years.

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