NASHUA, NH – If there’s one thing the global pandemic has proven, it’s that humans are social creatures. We need to connect with others. We want to feel free, have fun, hug, and nurture those important relationships. During the lockdown, the isolation left many of us feeling lost, alone and vulnerable.
And although the delta variant continues to spread around the world, slowly we are emerging from the COVID-19 crisis. Overall, things are improving and Americans are stepping out of their homes and venturing into the world.
Mask use is decreasing and social distancing is less than before, according to figures I read from an Ipsos poll conducted at the end of June.
Many questions persist, but here in my town, once a COVID “hotbed” in southern New Hampshire, there are 27 active cases as of this writing. Yet these numbers are very low.
There is good news on the horizon, something that brings hope to our downtown area and shows us that life goes on and cities keep moving forward.
Maybe not all of the taxpayers here are on board, but next year will bring a major physical transformation to Main and West Pearl Streets with the opening of the Nashua Performing Arts Center, which is currently under construction.
The large square pit might not look like much at the moment, but when completed, the 750-seat hall designed by ICON Architecture and OTJ Architecture hopes to become the crown jewel in the heart of the city.
It’s bittersweet in some ways for me. I grew up remembering this popular corner of 201 Main Street, which housed Miller’s Dept. Store, then Alec’s Shoes.
Can this modern place function and will people take the seats?
I would like to believe it, especially since the time is right for the center to make its debut in a “post-pandemic 2022”. At least hopefully by the end of 2022 the virus should look like a cold or the flu.
One aspect of the design concept intrigues me, and its presence would be a first for downtown and the city. I don’t think even Lowell has one, but it’s something people in the Nashua area have wanted for a very long time: to eat on the rooftop (or pretty much).
From what I saw in the sketches, a unique rooftop terrace will adorn the third level of the center overlooking the city center. Guests could get a different perspective of the city as they sip Pinot Noir and munch on shrimp cocktails about 65 feet above. For me, it’s an easy money generator for the venue. Rooftop terraces and rooftops are sexy and trendy attractions.
Pete Lally’s entertainment management in Lexington, MA will be directing Nashua PAC, and he is excited about the entertainment possibilities for Gate City and the surrounding area. Lally told the media he was considering “round theater, intimate unamplified performances, cabaret-style performances, indoor concerts for up to 1,000 as well as banquets for up to 200 people.” He also has plans for the venue to support local events and the arts community, in addition to family celebrations like wedding receptions.
So what is the problem?
Building a performing arts center was not an easy sale, so Mayor Jim Donchess and the Alderman Council decided to let voters have their say in the 2017 municipal election.
A voting question asked voters if they would support a $ 15.5 million bond for a performing arts center. It went from 5,163 to 5,012.
Far from being overwhelming, but a victory is a victory as they say.
Now it’s a $ 25 million project, and some disappointed taxpayers believe the expensive hub will become a downtown boondoggle.
I like to feel optimistic. Maybe PAC is exactly what Nashua and the region need to bounce back from COVID-19 and bring us back to the amazing social creatures that we are.
I’m looking at you, kid. I’ll see you on the roof terrace.