Blog : Conservation, Construction, and Community

By Katelyn | Dec 13, 2015 | in

By Kristyn Lak Miller

Living in a well-built space that’s just the right size. Being within walking distance to amenities. Knowing neighbors by name. “When it comes to choosing a home, traditional values are making a comeback,” says Jen Chinburg, Marketing Director for Chinburg Properties, the 30-year-old development and construction firm. “There’s a real interest in returning to priorities-driven, thoughtfully-constructed, community-based residences, downtown and beyond.”

Newmarket-based Chinburg Properties worked with its hometown on two developments to infuse tradition into modern living: Newmarket Mills, a downtown mix of rental apartments and commercial space, and Rockingham Green, a lifestyle community just minutes from the town’s center. “These developments have changed the way people look at Newmarket, and the way the people of Newmarket look at themselves,” says Steve Fournier, Newmarket Town Manager. “I am a New Hampshire seacoast native. When I was growing up, Newmarket was known mainly as a depressed mill town that provided inexpensive housing for students at UNH. Today, thanks in part to these developments, Newmarket is one of the hottest markets in the area.”

Apartment Living Grows Up, Goes Green, and Gets Connected

Newmarket Manufacturing Company constructed its first mill in Newmarket nearly 200 years ago, harnessing the power of the Lamprey River for textile production. Several mills were added during the century that followed and, during peak production, more than 700 were employed. The company closed in 1929 and the mills housed various tenants over the years, including Sam Smith Shoe Co. and Timberland. Though the mills dominated downtown, and long symbolized the town’s industriousness, they steadily fell into disrepair and, by the 1990s, became solemn reminders of Newmarket’s prosperous past.

In 2010, the mills along Newmarket’s Main Street began a two-year, green revitalization project through a public and private partnership primarily between the town and Chinburg Properties. Newmarket Mills is now a bustling mixed-use property, with an iconic granite exterior and lofty brick interiors featuring a host of carefully chosen details, from oversized, Energy Star-rated windows to eco-friendly concrete floors with radiant heat. Up to 200 tenants live in 112 units (studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments), and an estimated 200 people are employed in 30 or so mill-based businesses, from The Joinery, a locally sourced and seasonal restaurant, to Millspace, a thriving civic center for art, history, and culture.

“We completely reconstructed our downtown to coincide with the mill redevelopment,” says the Newmarket Town Manager. The $6.8 million dollar Main Street Reconstruction Project enhanced business, community, and the character of downtown with improved utilities, updated streetscapes, and widened sidewalks. “Newmarket Mills has made other businesses comfortable making investments here, which continues to improve our economic development,” says Diane Hardy, Newmarket Town Planner. “It’s great on a Saturday to see lots of people out and about, bringing energy to the downtown environment.”

Newmarket Mills has received professional recognition, like the 2012 NH Preservation Alliance Award and the Build New Hampshire Green Building Award, but it’s the positive response from tenants that means the most to Chinburg Properties. “We love hearing we’ve created a space that’s more than just an apartment,” says Chinburg. “We strive for people to live, work, and recreate, all in the same building. When they have to leave, we made it easy for them to get around and get things done, for instance, there’s a bus stop within walking distance, and a grocery store across the street.”

For Drew and Ezra Temko, the extras included with their two-bedroom apartment were a large part of why they chose to live at Newmarket Mills. “We own a canoe and a kayak, and use them frequently—there is a place to store them at no cost,” says Drew. “And for our family reunion this year, we were able to reserve the [outdoor] common space. We likely would not be living in Newmarket if it weren’t for the Mills. The quality of the building, location, and living space drove our decision to move to Newmarket. We have really enjoyed the town.”

Small in Size, Yet Big on Community and Conservation

A few miles from downtown Newmarket, adjacent to Rockingham Country Club, Rockingham Green is a lifestyle community on 25 acres with 40 acres of conservation land—and this expansive space might have become a Wal-Mart if the town hadn’t stepped in. “We wanted to preserve our natural resources and wetlands,” says the Newmarket Town Planner. “We asked Chinburg if they’d be interested in working on a community. Thankfully, the answer was ‘yes’.”

Comprised of 52 lots, none bigger than .47 acre, Rockingham Green’s custom homes are inspired by classic craftsman style; each, sized up to 2,300 square feet, is conceived in collaboration with project architect Wendy Welton of Art Form Architecture. “The homes are chosen to complement the layout of the lots, designed to be efficient with space, and built to Energy Star standards to decrease energy costs and increase air quality and thermal comfort—they’re also have great views and are really beautiful,” says Chinburg’s Marketing Director.

Unlike typical subdivisions, where big homes are built on big lots, Rockingham Green seeks to foster a genuine sense of community through close proximity and shared access to outdoor activities. The conservation land, for instance, offers trails for running, walking, birding, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing, and residents are only a few blocks away from the Rails to Trail bike network, which leads to Manchester. In addition, new homeowners receive a complimentary full-season golf pass to Rockingham Country Club or a one-year membership to next-door Seacoast Sports Club.

“For many years, people built their homes on two or more acre lots,” says the Newmarket Town Manager. “People wanted privacy and green space around them. The problem is that, by doing so, people did not know their neighbors. Rockingham Green creates the neighborhood atmosphere again.” Homeowner Stanley Chamallas and his wife, Pamela, moved in January 2015 from a 4,600 square-foot home on three acres into a home about one-third the size on .4 acres. “The environment has improved my lifestyle; a small yard and home have greatly diminished the time spent on mowing, yardwork, and general upkeep,” he says. “During my daily walk, I often run into neighbors. A sense of community is developing. One neighbor has already hosted a neighborhood get-together.”

The Chamallas hadn’t considered living in Newmarket before discovering Rockingham Green, and the same is true of neighbors Jeannie MacKay and her husband, James Gove, who downsized in December 2014 from a large house on four acres to an 1,800 square-foot home on .29 acres. “We chose Rockingham Green for the proximity to the seacoast, the open space of the golf course, and the attractive, well-designed, and energy-efficient houses,” she says. “While there will be many homes in Rockingham Green, the open space allows for both privacy and a neighborhood feel. The community is welcoming and friendly, and there’s a lot for the ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ person. Since we’ve been here, we’ve dined in Newmarket, golfed, walked and biked the trail system, and cross-country skied. We are enjoying being here.”

A Closer Look at the Future Newmarket in 2025

Newmarket’s 2015 Vision Statement extends ten years into the future, pledging to “continue to provide opportunities for owners and renters to live in attractive and affordable spaces in both the downtown and other areas.” The statement also commits to new developments that focus on “areas that are compatible with the town’s existing infrastructure [with] sustainable site design and green building techniques … that ensure balanced, intelligent, and creative preservation of open space and rural character.”

Chinburg Properties anticipates helping the town realize its vision. “Part of our mission is to foresee and meet the needs of municipalities, residents, and the environment,” says Chinburg. “To us, this is a quality of life issue, and we want that quality to be as high as possible, for all involved.”