Starbucks obtains permit for coffee house

MANCHESTER - The Development Review Board has approved a change of use permit for a Starbucks coffee house at the Equinox Square Plaza on Depot Street. When it opens, the proposed Starbucks will be the first of the international chain to open in southern Vermont.

The Take Five Daycare used to occupy the space.

Peter Keelan, principal partner in Equinox Square Partners, said that the location, which used to house a branch of the former Factory Point National Bank and later a Berkshire Bank, is perfect for a Starbucks. He said the addition of this cafe will be beneficial to Manchester's economy overall.

"With technology and the way it is now, we'll [Manchester's Starbucks] pop up on a lot of navigation systems, iPhones," he said. "People that are headed to Stratton or other places to ski that normally overlook will pull a lot of people in town."

In an email, Keelan said that Starbucks will also provide good jobs with benefits in the Manchester area. He also mentioned that visitors coming for Starbucks will also stop at other locations town, spending money at locally owned businesses.

"Manchester made the decision 30 years ago to set itself apart as a destination outlet center and having a Starbucks in town only makes it a more desirable location for visitors and shoppers, which are becoming scarcer by the year because of the competition from Internet shopping and the development of new outlet centers in between Manchester and the metro New York and Boston areas," he said in an email.

Alison Hopkins, director of planning and zoning administrator said the application was approved by a 5-2, with two members of the DRB, Alan Benoit and John Ringwood dissenting on the approval. Hopkins did not say why they did not approve the permit. The approval of the application includes a parking waiver, requested by the developers, Equinox Square Associates, which reduced the 50 required parking spaces to 10 spaces.

"The key zoning issue pertaining to the change of use is was agreed that with the overall number of spaces available at this site, links to the public sidewalk system, in conjunction with the parking waiver provision, emphasis on "effective parking" and mix use of peak hours at the sire, this matter is satisfied," the written decision states.

This location has a drive thru that can queue eight to 10 cars at a time, as well as peak hours from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., before the retail stores open in that location, helping to lessen the need for more parking spaces, the findings state.

There is no date set as of now for the new coffee shop to open, but Keelan said the goal is to get it opened as soon as possible.


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