Two views from the Chestnut Street bridge

While Dover’s downtown has traditionally run along the north-south spine of Central Avenue and its historic mill complex, new construction is giving more emphasis to the Chestnut-Locust street route a block to the west. Here’s how the view is changing.

There’s new housing north of the river before the street splices into Central Avenue.


Looking south, the new Orpheum fills in a skyline between the post office, new police station and parking garage, and two public housing units along the river itself.

In what was St. Charles’ parking lot

The architectural design is pretty basic, but it blends well.

When St. Charles Roman Catholic Church on Central Avenue was razed and replaced by the new Bradley Commons, I wondered what would happen to the part of its trashy parking lot fronting Park Street. It was a vacuous hole, especially for pedestrians. No longer. Here’s what the Community Action Partners have put up in its place, with a large open garage at its back.

Building out at sidewalk fits the traditional siting of much of the neighborhood while buffering the remaining parking lot.


On the waterfront

We had to wonder the background of this building in Eastport, Maine. Could have been a factory, maybe fish processing, or a warehouse. Turns out to have once been the world’s biggest sardine cannery. The potential also intrigues, should anyone take up its restoration before it collapses into the tide.


Third Street ballast

Side streets can add an important dimension to a downtown’s allure, providing more options to explore within a few blocks’ stroll. Most of Dover’s pedestrian attraction has been along Central Avenue, but the new Orpheum is adding muscle to the Washington Street intersection at Lower Square.

Three blocks to the north, just off Upper Square, this complex is filling in a former parking lot beside the railroad tracks, with the potential of doubling the retail appeal for strollers on the block of Third Street.

Angling the residential units above avoids creating a canyon effect on the street.

Corner of Mechanic and Chapel

Tucked in behind existing housing on what an been an unsightly gravel lot, this new complex just blocks from the marina appears modest while providing upgraded housing just off Dover’s downtown. It fits into the pedestrian-friendly focus of the new developments.
Mechanic Street runs along the back side of a shopping strip to the west – hardly a welcoming view – with rundown housing on the other. The site of the new complex once included a low-life nightspot that further depressed the appeal. The hope now is for the turnaround to spread.

Along the tracks

This new multi-use tower popped up as a surprise amid all of the other turnaround downtown. Just north of the tracks, it occupies a site that had held a former railroad freight station. Everybody knows the ice cream stand to the left.


Here’s the view from Third Street, where another development is opening. The tracks and two strips of parking separate the two projects.


Situated between the tracks and Fourth Street, the tower reduces a gap between downtown and the residential neighborhood to the north. St. Mary Roman Catholic church dominates the scene.


Riverside revival

As more people are drawn to live downtown, the Cocheco River is one attraction. Who wouldn’t want to sit out on a deck overlooking the water? Or maybe get out in a kayak?

With a design reflecting earlier New England mills, the fairly new Riparia is being joined by a sister multiuse building. They sit on a former parking lot and intend, among other things, to encourage pedestrian traffic along the riverfront.


Here’s the new construction on streetside.


Looking downstream.