This document represents the first complete set of draft goals, actions, and recommendations collected by the planning team for Imagine Nashua. Goals are the high-level topic-based achievements the City hopes to achieve in the coming decades. Actions are the major steps that the master plan will suggest that the community take to realize those goals. If an action has recommendations within it, those are smaller and more concrete steps that can help achieve an action.
This document will be revised and expanded to form the initial draft version of the master plan later this summer.
Explore ways to make commercial corridors more attractive and coherent to promote local business activity via:
Encouraging a wider range of commercial uses, mixed-use development, and active ground floor uses
Integrating and improving pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure
Incorporating landscaping and green infrastructure elements
Enhancing public realm through improved sidewalk conditions and placemaking opportunities
Developing form-based code, and facade and signage regulations
Amherst St Corridor
In collaboration with the City and stakeholders, the Master Plan team has identified the Amherst St corridor as the most important large-scale site for long-term planning for Nashua. Many issues come into play here — the effects of regional and macroeconomic shifts in employment as we enter deeper into the 21st century, the challenges associated with shifting transport and mobility away from being dominated solely by combustion-engine single passenger vehicles, balancing the opportunities of denser and more walkable development with the necessary infrastructural and land use changes — and we believe that pushing forward a progressive and transformative reenvisioning of this corridor will serve the entire city well as it grapples with how to address these issues in other locations as well.
Heavy traffic road, auto-dominated design: characterized large surface parking lots between buildings and the street
Lack of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, poor connectivity
Access management and traffic issues
No clear identity, haphazard development
Located on an important state highway (Rt. 101) that connects communities to the west to Route 3.
Future opportunities to provide needed housing in this area with walkable mixed-use development, including residential and commercial office/retail uses
Wider mix of uses will create more diversified traffic patterns and help preserve and enhance the City’s commercial tax base.
Achieve city’s goal to create mobility-oriented roads and streets that balance uses
Enhance Amherst St role as important connecting arterial and allow to grow into a successful commercial destination for the city
Explore carriageway layout with diagonal parking on commercial front as incentive to businesses for increased customer attraction, and as a traffic calming technique [see Amherst Corridor Visioning Concept, Image –]
Create signage and storefront guidelines on commercial corridors such as Amherst St. and Daniel Webster Hwy to enhance the corridor’s identity
Provide planted filter for stormwater management and as a traffic buffer [see Amherst Corridor Visioning Concept, Image –]
Integrate stormwater infiltration and vegetal filtering
Provide narrow long continuous multi-tree pits under permeable pavement.
In areas of high concentration of runoff, consider the incorporation of underground storage cells, preferably under paved surfaces, to encourage stormwater infiltration
Daniel Webster Highway
Daniel Webster Highway, similar to Amherst St, sits at the intersection of a large number of challenges, though they do differ somewhat. Unlike Amherst St, the current mix of big box development and the shopping mall are less likely to change in the immediate future, but the long-term trajectory of these kinds of uses is still uncertain. Generally speaking, this master plan still envisions a long-term rethinking of the corridor’s uses with outcomes in the spirit of the visioning process for Amherst St, though with a much more tentative outlook and timeline, given the lack of certainty around how these uses will shift.
Action: Facilitate public realm expansion and improvement on Main St to maintain downtown’s commercial activity
The temporary outdoor seating and public realm improvements made along Main Street, while initially pursued to promote the health and safety of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, now present the community with a vision of a new downtown. Despite the logistical hurdles of setting these changes up and temporary look and feel of jersey barriers, the increased option of outdoor seating and reclamation of a significant slice of the street away from purely automotive traffic has shown that a dramatic rethinking of the public realm can work in Nashua. Many concerns brought up hypothetically related to this kind of public realm intervention — reduced parking availability, access to the sidewalk, negative effects on businesses — have either not materialized or have been significantly less dramatic than anticipated. It is the opinion of this planning group that the benefits of these temporary improvements should be made permanent and even expanded as the city looks toward a broader reinvigoration of its downtown businesses.
Main Street North
The northern section of Main St from Factory and Temple St to East and West Hollis St, currently consists of a high density of small to medium scale active commercial and retail development. As a reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic, temporary sidewalk expansion has been implemented with positive reactions from citizens and shop owners. The City wishes to explore how this could become more permanent.
Protected bike path on both sides
Extended sidewalk to accommodate additional seating areas
The southern section of Main St is not recommended for significant lane reduction beyond East Hollis St due to the presence of wetlands/nature bordering Main St, and a lack of continuous parallel roads where traffic could be re-routed. There is longer-term development opportunity in this section to increase commercial and housing density, and continue the public realm improvements suggested for the northern section.
Integrate green infrastructure to capture stormwater runoff in this highly sensitive area near wetlands. Green infrastructure opportunities include employing:
Permeable pavers wherever feasible, especially at tree wells
Using continuous tree wells when possible with adequate underdrainage
Incorporating use of underground infiltration tanks, as necessary
Consider Parking alternatives
Encourage quality infill development that is consistent with the area and offers opportunities for increased amenities and economic development. It is likely that there are more redevelopment and infill opportunities on the southern section of Main St.
Action: Integrate the Daniel Webster site into its surroundings by developing an appropriately-scaled neighborhood.
Daniel Webster College
Unlike the corridors studied in this master plan, the Daniel Webster College site presents an entirely different set of existing conditions. A large single site, privately owned, abutting both a residential neighborhood as well as a regional airport, is a scenario not readily solved by standard planning recommendations. Generally speaking, economic and urban design analysis has found that all potential uses for the site have their own set of benefits and drawbacks. While the two most promising uses (other than as a airport-associated private college, a use that does not appear economically viable in the short-, medium-, or long-term anymore) appear to be redevelopment as either a light-scale industrial park or a medium-density housing development, community process indicated, quite strongly, that housing is strongly preferable to industrial development. For this reason, this master plan illustrates and presents only this housing scenario as a viable outcome for the site.
Create green fingers that connect existing biodiverse areas on east (woodland) and west (wetland) of the side
Consider these green fingers as new open space enhancing the new residential development. Residential buildings could face these green fingers, which include a variety of private and collective green spaces.
Consider linking these fingers to a low-impact nature path with overlooks along the wetland edge to create open space recreation, connectivity to existing recreational resources, and neighborhood enhancement.
Action: Plan development in Beazer remediation site.
Very few large waterfront sites remain in the city. The Beazer site, currently completing remediation, is an important location for consideration. Generally speaking, this master plan encourages density in new development, to promote walkability, reduced usage of resources, minimize development footprint, and allow for a larger mix of development typologies. That said, this site, with its minimal roadway access due to the railroad it abuts, faces some fundamental constraints related to infrastructure. For this reason, this plan recommends a phased strategy for mixed use primarily focused on medium-density single and potential multifamily housing, with some new at-grade crossings across the railroad and new riverfront public access points.
Limit the size of new buildings in the district through development of form-based code so new development complements the scale of the existing district doesn’t encourage large out-of-scale parking lots
Encourage incorporation of green infrastructure infiltration, tree planting, and pedestrian access routes within parking areas.
Encourage new development to be mixed-use with active ground floor uses
Recommendation: Develop Complete Street Guidelines to streamline future design and create dimensional standards based on national best practice guidance such as NACTO Urban Street Design Guide, NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide, NACTO Designin for All Ages & Abilities, NACTO Transit Street Guide, AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, FHWA Achieving Multimodal Networks, FHWA Bikeway Selection Guide, FHWA Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide, and MassDOT Separated Bike Lane Design Guide
Recommendation: In conjunction with Complete Street Guidelines update road and sidewalk standards to meet the needs of all transportation users.
Recommendation: Develop Complete Streets Task Force to champion transportation efforts in the City.
Recommendation: Improve pedestrian and bicycle access to all open spaces, and recreational areas.
Evaluate opportunities for developing buffered or protected bicycle lanes and opportunities for creating shared bicycle and pedestrian pathways to increase safety and accessibility for all ages and abilities.
Recommendation: Address areas of concern highlighted in the Nashua Bicycle and Pedestrian Project including, Main Street/Downtown, Amherst Street, Daniel Webster Highway, and the North End.
Recommendation: When roads are improved (including repaving), consider and implement accommodations for bicyclists and pedestrians in the design, when feasible.
Recommendation: Prioritize first-last mile bicycle facilities between future commuter rail stops and neighborhoods
Recommendation: Include bicycle parking in major activity centers and destinations to encourage bicycling throughout the city.
Recommendation: Develop a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan for the city, to further implement these recommendations.
Recommendation: Identify streets where fatal or serious injury collisions are likely to occur and prioritize these areas for safety-related improvements.
Recommendation: Ensure municipal fleet vehicles are made safer, especially for people walking and biking.
Recommendation: Outfit municipal trucks with side guards to reduce the risk of serious injuries to people biking and walking in the event of a collision and convex mirrors to improve blind spot visibility.
Recommendation: Procure fire trucks with shorter wheelbases so they can take tighter-radii turns, allowing intersections to be engineered with these tighter turns in mind and slowing vehicles in intersections.
Recommendation: Seek funding through private, public, partnership to reimplement bike share systems.
Consider working with a vendor to expand shared options to include ebikes and/or electric scooters
Recommendation: With funding allocated to a new bikeshare program, start a pilot in one zone of the City with key destinations to build up support and a fan base among the community.
Recommendation: As support and funding continues to grow, expand the bikeshare program throughout the City.
Recommendation: Ensure that bikeshare stations are placed near important destinations, like job centers, shopping areas, the downtown, and popular civic assets (the riverfront, town hall, the library, etc.) to encourage the use of less carbon intensive transportation methods.
Recommendation: Work with a carshare vendor to locate shared vehicle spaces in residential neighborhoods so people can reduce their need to own a private vehicle while retaining access to cars when necessary.
Work with developers to include car share spaces in lieu of parking minimums.
Recommendation: Conduct a feasibility study to determine the desire for employer based carpooling or rideshare programs.
Recommendation: Provide wayfinding and educational programming to aid residents, visitors, and people who work in Nashua how to use the alternative transportation methods.
Recommendation: Continue to recruit prospective employers in emerging 21st century industries including research and development-based employers, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, and other similar technology sectors.
Recommendation: Explore development incentives/invest in infrastructure along commercial corridors such as Amherst and Daniel Webster Hwy to position limited key land areas for future office/mixed-use commercial development including R&D and appropriate life science opportunities.
Recommendation: Large parcels of land should always be considered as potential locations for these emerging industries, and development review should always remember the risk of short-term development revenue at the expense of long-term economic growth for the city.
Recommendation: Assess training needs of local workforce especially low and moderate income residents to access jobs in emerging target industries, and use needs assessment to inform creation of new/specialized training programs
Recommendation: Provide training for STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) skill development through a combination of models mixing formal educational options with skill development camps and programs.
Recommendation: Promote youth line of sight into job options through information campaigns, exposure events, and internship opportunities when appropriate
Align with citywide commercial/retail facade and signage guidelines to ensure general consistency and coherency in formal language with opportunities for unique design attributes reflecting individual businesses
Recommendation: Place the oversight of the Affordable Housing Trust (AHT) within the Community Development Division to create synergy with the City’s Consolidated Plan, Master Plan, development permitting, and connections with other housing partners.
Update inclusionary housing regulations
Recommendation: Consider revising the current Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) policy to apply city-wide to any residential or mixed-use development that exceeds a certain number of units (e.g. any development containing 10 or more units).
Reduced permit fees, eliminated off-street parking requirements, reduced lot sizes for detached ADUs, simplified gross square footage limits for both detached and attached ADUs, flexibility in entrance locations, the allowance of modified roof lines to create more usable space, and allow ADUs to be placed within the rear setback (as noted in the 2020 housing study)
Recommendation: Also as noted in the study, conduct a city-wide campaign on the benefits of ADUs, with example plans and an explanation of the permitting process.
Recommendation: Seek out public, private partnerships to allocate funding to protect the Pennichuck Brook corridor, including Pennichuck Pond. The area is currently unprotected and at risk of development.
Recommendation: Expand planning for Salmon Brook Corridor by increasing public access, extending existing conservation land protection, and providing a pedestrian trail.
Recommendation: Review park inventory to determine how accessible parks are for all residents. Seek funding and build neighborhood parks in areas of the City that are park deficient.
Recommendation: Create bike and pedestrian access to parks and within all open spaces and recreational areas in the City.
Recommendation: Provide bike parking and repair stations at all park facilities.
Recommendation: In conjunction with digital mapping efforts for park access create and combine layers for bike and pedestrian trails so park visitors can understand the amenities at parks citywide.
Recommendation: Seek funding to create a rail to trail network along Daniel Webster Hwy and seek out new locations to expand rail to trail networks throughout the City. When building rail to trail networks explore how to connect new networks to existing and future street bike trails.
Recommendation: As part of a feasibility study, determine if there are opportunities to create human and wildlife trail corridors that would connect municipal and private conservation areas all the way to the Monadnock region.
Recommendation: As part of the regional park connections determine how to create connections to Mine falls park and Nashua River Rail Trail
Recommendation: Build upon research from 2017 Climate and Health Adaptation Plan findings by the NRPC.
Recommendation: Address Heat island effect and determine areas throughout the city that were identified as high priority in CHAP such as the French Hill neighborhood.
Recommendation: Collaborate with the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Infrastructure Resilience to Climate to determine areas in Nashua that are most vulnerable to increased precipitation and riverine flooding risk.
Recommendation: Modify dimensional regulations specific to neighborhood or district character, including minimum lot size, frontage requirement, setbacks, open space and parking requirements.
Develop comprehensive form-based code so new development complements the scale of the existing district or neighborhood
Recommendation: Where appropriate, allow a wider range of uses, relying on dimensional and design standards, in order to retain neighborhood character while creating local destinations that can support existing businesses, and encourage local walking and bicycling trips.
Recommendation: Work with the Nashua Historic District Commission to create an updated inventory of the city’s historic properties
Recommendation: Create interactive map of surveyed historic properties and resources and make this information available to the public
Recommendation: Encourage adaptive reuse that preserves the character-defining architectural features of historic buildings
Recommendation: Develop a comprehensive and citywide preservation plan to identify specific preservation strategies the City can implement to preserve its historic resources, including buildings, neighborhoods, parks, and municipal grounds.
Recommendation: Plan for a scalable, predictable and adaptable approach to improve design quality across the city
Use Imagine Nashua public visioning process and scenario development to establish city-wide urban design guidelines that take into account historic context and local character, and desired future outcomes
Require developers to meet with City early on and review established urban design guidelines, before development conceptualization begins
Recommendation: Update zoning in targeted redevelopment areas identified in the Imagine Nashua Master Plan with clear instructions of what is permitted and reduce the reliance on special permits and variances.
Recommendation: Encourage adoption of form-based code where appropriate, such as Main St, East Hollis St area and and Amherst St corridor development
Recommendation: Ensure that members represent a wide variety of backgrounds relevant to the built environment expertise and across various parts of the city to ensure that approved projects are of high quality design
Recommendation: Hold periodic programming including open houses, neighborhood meetings, online forums, status updates to create opportunity for the public to engage, learn about, and stay updated with city land use policy and development
For detailed information on key housing issues and strategies for implementation in Nashua, please see the recently completed 2020 Housing Study. The following actions are extracted and generalized from recommendations outlined in the Housing study which can be found on the documents page.
Recommendation:The City should continue to explore all options such as deferring tax payments if affordable housing is included, selling the land at a significant discount, or providing a grant or no interest rate loan for a portion of the cost.
Recommendation: Consider hosting a developer tour and/or a roundtable to showcase available sites (public and private) that are available for development. As part of the roundtable, a discussion could be facilitated to identify potential barriers to completing a project on a site.
The City of Nashua currently offers two separate residential rehabilitation programs through the City’s CDBG Housing Program. The first is an owner-occupied Housing Improvement Program (HIP) which provides 0% interest loans to correct code, safety, health, or accessibility issues. The City also began offering a rental rehab program to assist landlords with correcting serious code, safety, health, or accessibility issues.
Recommendation: Given the estimated rehabilitation needs of property just in the Downtown area alone (estimated at $12 million), these two rehabilitation programs are of critical importance to improving and maintaining higher quality affordable housing across the City.
Recommendation: Keeping these programs in place and making them financially sustainable over time should be a priority for the City. One way to do that is to find ways to either leverage other funding sources or find ways to require payment of the loan over time to build a revolving source of capital.
Recommendation: Revisit the feasibility of offering first time homebuyer assistance in the form of down payment assistance and closing cost assistance.
These two barriers to homeownership are becoming more acute as home prices continue to escalate year over year making it more difficult for households to purchase homes for the first time and have some ability to move from rental to ownership housing.
Recommendation: Evaluate the type of program to offer and the most effective way to fund that program.
Recommendation: Mitigation efforts may include building transit shelters, expanding the nearby sidewalks or bicycle facilities, increasing the bicycle parking, limiting the number of on-site parking spaces, charging for parking spaces, tree planting, or more.
Goal: Reliability and Efficiency of Multimodal Operations
Recommendation: Encourage use of the existing and future network by helping users navigate to their desired destination with multi-lingual wayfinding signs, QR codes, creative paint treatments on roads, maps.
Recommendation: Focus signage along and leading to the Heritage Rail Trail, Mine Falls Park, Countryside Drive, and Groton Road.
Recommendation: Expand environmental programming at parks to cultivate respect and appreciation for open space and stewardship at a young age.
Recommendation: Work with Grow Nashua and other gardening efforts to develop a citywide urban gardening program. Consider parks or schoolyards to build gardens and create educational programming around gardens.
Recommendation: Improve accessibility of the riverfront for all users by upgrading existing access points, ensuring all access points are up to ADA standards, and improving signage.
Recommendation: Seek out funding to extend the pathway on the north side of the River to Lincoln Park in conjunction with the extension of Franklin Street to join the Broad Street Parkway.
Recommendation: Link the shoreside walkway to redevelopment of the old riverside industrial area and connect it to the new Riverside apartment complex at the outlet of the Nashua River.
Recommendation: The newly expanded Nashua River Eastern bikeway/walkway should include a branch that crosses the Nashua River on the abandoned railroad bridge and thereby provide pedestrian access to the Thoreau’s Landing condo community.