SEABROOK – The empty aisles in the building that once housed Shaw’s supermarket will be filled with go-kart racers when NH1 Motorplex opens its doors this summer.
NH1 Motorplex, which is owned by Derek Doucette, got the OK from Planning Board members on Tuesday night. Doucette will lease the 49,000-square-foot space from Brixmore Property Group, which owns the back portion of Seacoast Shopping Center at 270 Lafayette Road (Route 1).
This is Doucette’s second attempt to site his indoor go-kart race course in Seabrook. The Planning Board approved the first, intended for 72 Stard Road, but Doucette’s attorney, Christopher Mulligan, said the project fell through there. However, on Tuesday night both Doucette and Brixmore’s James Mientkiewicz filed a joint plan for consideration by the Planning Board.
According to Mulligan, there will be no exterior changes to the building. All alterations will take place inside the building to accommodate racing tracks for electrified, motorized go-karts. The vehicles will be provided by Doucette and will be driven primarily by their drivers, Mulligan said, although karts include governors that can be regulated by Motorplex personnel if problems arise.
“There is no gas or combustible fuels,” Mulligan said.
Doucette said the venue will host up to eight go-karts in each race. He expects a maximum of seven to eight races per hour, and customers can buy racing packages. Doucette plans to offer “league nights,” when light turnouts are expected, similar to bowling alleys.
The result would be about 22 people per hour in the venue. He estimated that would bring only about 50 cars per hour through the shopping center’s intersection, far fewer than a grocery store.
Because vehicles have electric motors, Doucette said, there won’t be noise to bother residents in neighborhoods behind the building.
“The vehicles are very quiet,” he said. “Very safe.”
Doucette said no alcohol will be served, and only packaged snacks and soft drinks will be sold.
He expects about 15 new jobs to be created when the business opens in June or July.
The project required Planning Board approval for a “change of use,” since the building was previously a retail site. The board approved the new entertainment/recreation use on the condition Mientkiewicz improve the site, including adding more greenery to make the parking lot more attractive.
“The landscaping has not been maintained in that site for years and years,” Planning Board member Don Hawkins told Mientkiewicz. “It’s a mess. Do something.”
Mientkiewicz agreed to expand three existing parking lot islands, and plant and maintain attractive landscaping.
This is the first new tenant in years that Brixmore signed for Seacoast Shopping Center, which became a near ghost town after many of its previous tenants were drawn away by newer plazas farther north on Route 1.
Both of Seacoast Shopping Center’s anchor stores left. Shaw’s closed in September 2013, after its parent company shut down a number of its supermarkets nationwide, including six in New Hampshire. Walmart, which located there in the early 1990s, left more than two years ago to build a Super Walmart at Seabrook Commons, at 700 Lafayette Road.
Brixmore now owns only the back portion of Seacoast Shopping Center. The front lot, which formerly housed Walmart, was sold. Ocean State Job Lot purchased that roughly 140,000-square-foot building and is subdividing it.
One section of the building will house Ocean State’s discount retail store and another was approved for Cardi’s Furniture’s first New Hampshire location. The tenant for the remaining space is yet to be announced. Ocean State Job Lot is scheduled to open in mid-March.
Angeljean Chiaramida can be reached at 978-961-3147, at email@example.com, or follow her on Twitter @achiaramida1.