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How COVID-19 Remolded Tuscan Village

Under-construction at the outset of the pandemic, Tuscan Village doubled the number of apartments it was building.
Tuscan Village is a 170-acre mixed-use development in Salem, N.H.

Brick and mortar retail was battered and beaten when COVID-19 struck in 2020. Patterns of Americans life were re-arranged, perhaps for good. Work weeks are now commonly composed of two or three days in the office and two or three days at home. Consumer demand is now heavily oriented to the value of time. The less time people spend commuting or driving back and forth for the goods and services they desire, the better. Consumers of all ages now long to be in an environment where all of their needs will be more convenient. Time has become people’s top priority.

At that time, we were still building and adding to the success of Tuscan Village, a 4 million-sq.-ft. mixed-use development off I-93 in Salem, N.H., 30 miles north of Boston. The onset of the pandemic caused us to tear up some of our original plans and re-fashion the property.

We scaled back a lot of the office space in our blueprints and doubled down on the amount of residential from 700 units to more than 1,500. Because New Hampshire has no state income tax and many people were working from home, we attracted many remote workers from Massachusetts and, because new multifamily inventory is not abundant in New Hampshire, we have been serving many in-state residents as well. Seventy of the new units under construction will be high-end condos.

Since the development has opened in phases, we’ve witnessed how people connect within the village to date—riding their bikes, hanging out at Lake Park listening to live music and enjoying the Beer Garden, or just grabbing a bite at the spacious outdoor patio of the Tuscan Market run by Tuscan Village owner and developer Joe Faro.

As for retail?  First of all, sales are great so far and Phase 1 is 100% leased with a lineup of first-class tenants like Arhaus, L.L. Bean, Pottery Barn, Nike, Container Store, and Williams Sonoma. Most open-air centers are destinational, and there’s not a lot of magic to that. Unless and until you pull the total environment together, you’re not going to maximize sales for retailers.

Unexpectedly, COVID helped us put it together at Tuscan Village with a plan quite different than the one we started out with.

Michael Powers is Senior VP of retail at Tuscan Village.

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