1.0 Introduction

In September 2000, the Town of Hanover commissioned Brook McIlroy Inc. (formerly Cochrane Brook Planning and Urban Design) to assist the Town in preparing a Downtown Vision for the Town of Hanover. Throughout the study period the consultant team has met regularly with the Downtown Vision Committee, conducted an extensive process of data collection on Downtown Hanover and held interviews with stakeholders identified by the Committee. In addition, two public open houses have been held. The first open house was conducted as a public workshop inviting participants to contribute to the design vision of the downtown (figures 1 and 2). The second workshop was held at the conclusion of the study to present the Downtown Vision recommendations. Many research and background materials have been supplied through the work of the Committee and have been an invaluable resource for the work.

Figures 1 and 2: Public Vision Workshop

Public Vision WorkshopPublic Vision Workshop 2

This document represents the recommended vision for the Downtown documented through planning and urban design recommendations, amended zoning policies and transportation improvements. This vision is presented through a variety of plans, illustrations and photographs and through a series of three dimensional model images, which have been created to illustrate the Downtown vision within the existing Downtown context.

The following section summarizes the issues and themes identified during the Downtown visioning process into a series of objectives for future Downtown planning. These objectives form the basis of the recommendations for Hanover's Downtown Vision described in this report. Appendix A provides a summary of the stakeholder interviews and the Public Workshop.

Appendix B contains a Hard/Soft Analysis prepared by members of the Committee as a background reference for the study. This analysis provides a preliminary assessment of downtown properties indicating parcels that are more likely to be redeveloped in the near future (soft properties) and those that are less likely to be redeveloped (hard properties).

The following "Nutshell Vision" was prepared by the Downtown Vision Committee as a guiding statement to give direction to the future planning of Hanover's downtown.

"Hanover's downtown should include a vibrant, compact commercial center balanced by the adjacent campus of Dartmouth College and offering an abundant mix of housing opportunities in close proximity.

The commercial center should reinforce Hanover's sense of community; the streetscape should encourage pedestrian interaction and gathering, and most civic buildings and functions should be located within the downtown center.

Commercial spaces should be available in the center to provide places to work, to serve the retail needs of daily life and to offer opportunities to gather, relax and be entertained. Although recognizing that Hanover has been and will continue to be the focus of significant tourism, it is important that the commercial center serve the needs of the local and area population (including students). The commercial center should be active both during the day and at night.

Housing should be an important component of the downtown, with an abundant and diverse mix of housing (large and small) located within, and radiating out of, the commercial center. Downtown housing should reinforce the connections between residents and the downtown, should convey a sense of neighborhood and should help promote independence from the automobile.

Buildings within the downtown may be diverse in function but should be relatively compatible with their neighbors in size and in disposition on their lots. Streets should be spatially defined by these buildings and uninterrupted by parking lots. The downtown should invoke a sense of tradition, dignity and stability and provide the ambiance of a small but prosperous New England College town."

Downtown Hanover Visioning Process

A focus of the Downtown Vision Study has been a public consultation process that included an extensive series of interviews and a one-day workshop with Town, College, resident and business representatives. The following is a summary of the key objectives and design principles that arose from this process that should guide future planning of the Downtown.

  1. Maintain and enhance a vibrant Downtown
    • Provide more diverse retail including low to mid-range retail to support everyday needs.
    • Increase the retail area within the existing downtown.
    • Increase housing density by providing townhouses and housing above retail.
    • Include mixed use and commercial uses on the periphery of Downtown.
    • Maintain good "Town/Gown" relationships.
    • Keep the High School Downtown
  2. Create Downtown boundaries and allow the Town to grow
    • Allow the Downtown to grow, but establish clear boundaries.
    • Maintain the established residential areas.
    • Maintain and extend the diversity of building types.
    • Preserve and extend existing community green space.
  3. Create a design vision for Downtown building and streetscapes
    • Lebanon Street between Main Street and Crosby/Sanborn should be considered as the key Downtown expansion area.
    • Continue the vibrant Main Street treatment on Lebanon Street and improve visibility and connections to the Hopkins Center and Spaulding Auditorium. Infill the parking area on the north side of Lebanon Street west of Spaulding Auditorium. Create a highly landscaped streetscape image particularly on the north side of Lebanon Street through treatments within the public right-of-way and the existing large building setback.
    • Extend the vitality of Main Street between Wheelock Street and Lebanon Street to the south end of Main Street through infill on underdeveloped sites including the Post Office and Grand Union sites.
    • Create stronger gateways to the Downtown through built form and streetscape treatments. (e.g. east approach at Lebanon and Crosby, west approach at West Wheelock Street, south approach at Grand Union Site).
    • Maintain the village scale and character of the Downtown.
  4. Provide more activities Downtown
    • Provide a greater variety of activities for adults and children including theater, live music, restaurants, mid-range retail and children's clothing.
    • Provide more social places and affordable retail for College students.
    • Create more outdoor social spaces including courtyards and green space within building setbacks.
    • Provide more nighttime activities including clubs and cafes with entertainment and music.
  5. Improve the existing road network and traffic
    • Consider alternate traffic routes through and around the Downtown.
    • Promote shuttle bus and public transit opportunities.
    • Encourage the use of bicycles along designated routes.
    • Promote radical thinking: limit student driving, limit cars per downtown household.
  6. Create a variety of housing Downtown
    • Provide more affordable housing for families, seniors, College faculty, and students.
    • Provide housing within and close to the Downtown to encourage people to walk to work and to promote a more vibrant day and evening Downtown.
    • Intensify existing housing through redevelopment, additions or permitting basement apartments.
    • Preserve the existing established residential areas, but consider opportunities for intensification.
    • Maintain a connection between the Downtown and the surrounding residents.
  7.  Create diverse retail opportunities in the Downtown
    • Provide a greater balance between up-scale shops and retail that serves the needs of local residents.
    • Change zoning to allow for more small and side street retail.
    • Create a mixed-use buffer zone between the edge of the Downtown and the established residential areas. Mixed-use buildings could include retail at grade and commercial or residential above.
    • Create more residential units within the Downtown, but consider flexible building forms that can serve live-work opportunities or convert to evolve with market conditions.
    • Provide complementary scale buildings to those that exist.
  8. Create improvements to parking areas and structures
    • Build more parking structures on the periphery of Downtown to reduce infiltration of traffic within the Town. Design parking structures that fit within the context of existing buildings (e.g. 7 Lebanon Street).
    • Improve the appearance and safety of existing and proposed surface parking areas for pedestrian and vehicular circulation through landscaped edge treatments and the inclusion of well-lit pedestrian walkways. Where feasible, surface-parking areas should be placed behind buildings and accessed via a private or public lane.
    • Consider opportunities for underground parking structures.
  9. Create more public spaces in the Downtown
    • Create small green spaces rather than large park areas in the Downtown.
    • Keep the High and Middle School as it serves as an important open space to local residents. Consider the pros and cons of moving one or both of the High and Middle School out of the Downtown.
    • Consider the potential to include green space on the north side of Lebanon Street between Main and Crosby in combination with future infill development.
    • Provide street trees and benches similar to Main Street on streets that intersect with Main Street.
    • Create opportunities for 'spill-out' areas for socializing from at-grade building uses (e.g. cafes, theatre, public buildings) in the form of landscaped courtyards and forecourts.
    • Establish criteria for areas that should be open and green throughout the Downtown.
  10. Maintain and extend Hanover's rich heritage into the Downtown vision
    • Maintain and extend the village scale and character of the Downtown. New development should be complementary to the scale, massing and architectural style of existing buildings.
    • Extend the original role of the Town as a place to live and work through the introduction of land uses that promote live work relationships such as mixed-use buildings that include retail or commercial at grade and residential above.
  11. Maintain existing Downtown attributes
    • Maintain and extend opportunities for business.
    • Maintain the presence of the established residential community.
    • Maintain the traditional village image and scale of buildings and streets.
    • Build on the existing street and block fabric that contributes a unique and varied experience of the Downtown.

Figure 3: Preliminary Downtown Opportunities Plan

Preliminary Downtown Opportunities Plan