Mancunian Business Spotlight: Manchester Acupuncture Studio

Speculative Buy Local logo for Manchester hastily designed by LivableMHT - a real one should be created & used

In the second of an ongoing, occasional series on local businesses and their place in the Queen City, Elizabeth Ropp explains the history and mission of the Manchester Acupuncture Studio, and why it was important for the studio to remain downtown even as it moved to a more accessible location at 813 Canal Street recently.

Manchester Acupuncture Studio (MAS), with locations in Manchester and Nashua, is one of five Community Acupuncture clinics in New Hampshire, and operates on a sliding-scale to ensure that acupuncture is affordable to all members of the community.


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View of Millyard from MAS’ new space

Manchester Acupuncture Studio (MAS) is bringing in the new year with a new location at the flagship Manchester clinic, now located at 813 Canal Street.

Why the move?  It really comes down to accessibility and improved facilities. The new location in the Gold’s Gym Corner overlooks the Mill Yard and the Merrimack river, offers superior visibility, plentiful and level parking, ADA accessible bathroom and improved facilities. MAS to be as inclusive as possible in how we provide acupuncture, which means maintaining affordable rates, offering services seven days/week, and now more accommodating facilities.

MAS provides 23,000+ treatments annually between our Manchester and Nashua locations.  We work in Manchester and Nashua because between all MAS employees live in the area and we want to serve the community that we live in.

Southern New Hampshire has enthusiastically supported affordable acupuncture services by spreading the word to family, friends, co-workers, and health care providers.  Over the last few years MAS has received hundreds of referrals from the medical community, to which we are extremely grateful.   

Neighbors napping at MAS
Neighbors napping at MAS

Why downtown Manchester?  MAS founder, Andy Wegman, had been practicing acupuncture in Manchester for 7 years before opening Manchester Acupuncture Studio.  “I met lots of folks who were open to acupuncture,  but couldn’t afford private room rates.  I developed a real love for the people of the city, along with the model of Community Acupuncture.” The discovery of a beautiful big space to treat lots of people in Manchester’s Millyard was pure serendipity.  The original space served us well for many years and patients often mentioned that they loved the old buildings and shared personal stories of having worked in the Mills or of a mother or grandmother who had once worked in the mills.  

Continue reading Mancunian Business Spotlight: Manchester Acupuncture Studio

Bike MHT announces 50/50 bike rack program

Bike Manchester has just announced the Manchester 50/50 Bike Rack Program, which will provide bike racks to 15 lucky (and savvy) Queen City businesses and non-profits for just $200. Thanks to the efforts of Bike Manchester and theCity of Manchester Department of Public Works and Bike Manchester, Manchester gained its first striped bike lanes last year.

Bike lanes and racks are the sort of improved bicycle infrastructure that Bike Manchester has been advocating for in the city since 2013 in effort to get more Mancunians out riding bikes more safely, and the organization is now partnering with the City DPW on the Manchester 50/50 Bike Rack Program.

More bike racks will mean less bikes chained to signposts – photo from Manchester Ink Link

According to Bike Manchester’s map, there are a number of bike racks located at private businesses, city parks and schools, but many are the flimsy portable type, and there are many areas of the city without any racks at all. The Manchester 50/50 Bike Rack Program will not only boost the numbers of racks in the city, but provide strong, permanent racks either on private commercial or non-profit property, or on public sidewalks.

Businesses with bike racks will not only be more appealing to bicyclists, but the increased visibility that the racks will provide will give Manchester residents more assurance that there will be a place to “park” when running errands or commuting by bike.

Bike Manchester explains the application process in their press release:

Business interested in applying to take part in the program must do so by Feb. 28 at bikemht.com/application. Bike rack applications will be evaluated on, and priority given to, those whose proposed bike rack locations are most visible to the public, are accessible to the greatest numbers of bicyclists and potential bicyclists, and on the strength of the applicants’ plans to promote bike rack use to their customers, employees, and/or commercial tenants.

Study says NH needs commuter rail–will the politicians agree?

Next stop: Manchester? - photo by matthrono
Next stop: Manchester? – photo by matthrono

We’ve written several times about the need for commuter rail between Manchester and Boston. In fact, LivableMHT’s very first post was about the Capitol Corridor study of passenger rail between Concord, Manchester, Nashua and Boston.

Two years ago, the Executive Council wisely permitted that study to go forward, and with the official results of due out soon, there are very promising preliminary results showing that commuter rail would be an economic boon to southern New Hampshire.

New Hampshire continues to lose young people to cities like Boston and New York, and the tech companies and startups that fill places like the Millyard have sounded the alarm that they are having difficulty attracting talented workers to the state. It’s clear that the “New Hampshire Advantage” of low taxes (unless you consider property taxes) and a low cost-of-living is no longer enough to convince the young, talented workers who drive the economy that New Hampshire, and more specifically Manchester, is a dynamic, interesting place to live. The State and the Queen City need to step up their game, and join with Nashua, in strongly advocating for a rail connection to Boston.

Manchester Regional Rail option from the Capitol Corridor study
Manchester Regional Rail option from the Capitol Corridor study

Commuter rail won’t solve all of the state’s problems, but with the study showing that the “Manchester Regional” option will lead to an additional 5,600 new jobs and 3,600 new housing units, with nearly 2,600 daily riders, there’s no question that the investment to build and operate passenger rail would be a plus for the state. Rail commuters in Nashua, many of whom now drive to Lowell to catch a train to Boston, would largely be heading south for work.

That will probably be the case in Manchester, too, but Gray Chynoweth, COO of Dyn, points out that passenger rail between Manchester and Boston would also make it easier for commuters to head north from the Hub to the Queen City. That would make jobs in Manchester more attractive to young people who want to live in a bigger city like Boston, and it would make tech companies and other businesses that rely on young workers more likely to stay and move to New Hampshire. Over time, some of those commuters heading north to Manchester might be attracted by the lower rent, access to the outdoors, and the city’s burgeoning dining scene, and decide to settle in the Queen City, knowing that they could still easily hop on a train down to Boston.

Continue reading Study says NH needs commuter rail–will the politicians agree?

Where are Manchester’s 10,000 college students?

UNH Manchester emphasizes its urban setting
UNH Manchester emphasizes its urban setting

The school year is in full swing at UNH Manchester, NHIA, SNHU, St. Anselm and other Manchester colleges, and it’s hard to overstate the positive effects that those schools and their students have on the Queen City.

It has been estimated that there are roughly 10,000 students attending Manchester colleges and universities, and in recent years their presence has become more noticeable around the city and especially downtown. UNH Manchester will be moving into an expanded and more visible space at the Pandora Mill in the coming year, building on the astounding growth of NHIA over the past decade.

NHIA's original building, French Hall - photo by C Hanchey
NHIA’s original building, French Hall – photo by C Hanchey

Ever since it became a degree-granting college in 1997, the New Hampshire Institute of Art has had a growing presence in downtown Manchester and the inner east side of the city. Growing from a single building as an art instruction school, NHIA’s student body now numbers more than 500 on a campus that dots the city center, with facilities ranging from a six-story dorm at 88 Lowell Street to a community arts center in the former St. Anne’s Church.

Manchester will never be a true “college town” like Durham or Hanover–as the state’s largest city, it will always be defined by more than that–but it can and should do more to harness the energy, cultural offerings and economic impact that students and colleges bring to the city. With nearly as many students as Durham and more students than Hanover, Plymouth or Keene, Manchester’s student population and area colleges should have a greater prominence in the wider community. Unlike traditional college towns, Manchester’s economy is not based on higher education and its largest schools (SNHU and St. Anselm) are on opposite edges of town. NHIA’s cluster of buildings around Victory Park are the closest Manchester comes to having a college district or neighborhood.

With news in August that a possible merger between NHIA and SNHU has been postponed, and that student housing could be built on the Pearl Street parking lot, Manchester is at a potential crossroads and should actively consider the role that colleges and students have in the city. Whether a merger between NHIA and SNHU is a good idea or not, greater cooperation and shared efforts by Manchester colleges would certainly be a good thing for the city, as would having many more students living downtown. The Pearl St student housing would be built privately, and presumably would be open to students from several area colleges, promoting more interaction of a diverse and currently far-flung student community. Continue reading Where are Manchester’s 10,000 college students?

Mancunian Business Spotlight: A&E Coffee & Tea

Speculative Buy Local logo for Manchester hastily designed by LivableMHT - a real one should be created & used

In the first of what we hope will be an ongoing, occasional series on local businesses and their place in the Queen City, Emeran Langmaid describes the allure of opening a coffee shop in downtown Manchester.

A&E Custom Coffee Roastery is an award-winning coffee roaster based in Amherst, and founded by Emeran Langmaid in 2001. Given her background in textiles and manufacturing, the Queen City is a natural place for Langmaid’s latest endeavor: the A&E Coffee & Tea cafe that recently opened in the former J Dubs space in downtown Manchester.


Baristas at A&E’s new cafe in Manchester

“Why Manchester?” I get that question a lot. In fact, I ask that question a lot. What makes Manchester a good place to open a business, a craft coffee and tea cafe nonetheless? Now that I am open, I daily rely on my answer to that question.

The hard facts are that Manchester is one of the larger cities in New England. It is continuing to grow and get favorable rankings as a “great place to live and work” among leading magazines such as Forbes and Money. For a coffee/tea cafe, those are great statistics. However, that alone is not why I opened a second location in Manchester.

You see, at the core, I am an underdog. I like the raw and grittiness that eventually produces something amazing and beautiful. I started a coffee roasting company with two pennies rubbed together, and have grown it to a successful, sustaining company that employs people, creates an environment where everyone is welcome, and has a net positive impact on all we touch; coffee and tea producers all the way to our customers. We take tremendous care and pride in our product and want to pass along that enjoyment to all around us. Manchester has its own underdog history with the rise and fall of the textile industry. It is certainly on the upswing, but as with us all, has areas of improvement.

Continue reading Mancunian Business Spotlight: A&E Coffee & Tea

Learning from Concord: a festival for downtown

Starting today, downtown Concord will host its 40th annual Market Days Festival, which runs for three days through Saturday July 19. The festival is a celebration of the Capital City’s downtown, with Main Street closed to traffic and sidewalks lined with vendors and entertainment.

Local businesses and organizations apparently saw the value in putting themselves in front of the more than 50,000 people who attended last year, as this year’s festival will host nearly 200 booths, tents, stages, miniature golf courses and even a temporary park. As NHPR reports, in addition to the “sidewalk sales, food vendors, live music, and other activities,” the event heightens a sense of community in downtown Concord.

It begs the question: if Concord, a city of little over 40,000 people, can pull of such an event, why can’t Manchester? Next weekend, Arms Park will host the first annual Granite State Brewers Association Summer Festival, and Intown Manchester runs the ongoing Summer Concert Series in Veterans Park, but there’s no event in Manchester that captures the same spirit of celebration, community and even commerce as the Market Days Festival in Concord.

Jazz & Blues Festival on Hanover St, early 2000s
Jazz & Blues Festival on Hanover St, early 2000s

During his time as mayor, Robert Baines, along with the Hippo and others, spearhead the Jazz & Blues Festival, which ran for a weekend each summer for a number of years in the early 2000s. The festival featured musicians on several stages on and around Hanover Street, but it also provided a showcase for local businesses and organizations. And it offered a reason for people of all ages and walks of life to congregate downtown. It was such a hit that years after it was last held, it is still touted on websites from the MEDO (the City’s Economic Development Office)’s profile of downtown to Kiplinger’s list of the 10 best cities for retirees. It wasn’t just a celebration of music it showcased, but of downtown Manchester itself. Continue reading Learning from Concord: a festival for downtown

Improving Manchester’s streets for everyone

In the past we’ve looked at ways to transform Canal and Bedford Streets into a vibrant urban boulevard, but today we’re taking a look at a more budget-friendly way to make streets throughout the city–and by extension the neighborhoods around them–better places not just for cars, but for everyone.

Reverting multi-lane one-way streets to two-way

Maple Street toward Ash Street School, Corey Square - photo by Brian O'Connor
Maple Street in Corey Square – photo by Brian O’Connor

Standing on the corner of Maple and Lowell streets in the heart of Corey Square just east of downtown, it can be easy to forget that streets are built not just for cars, but for users of all sorts–pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. Streets aren’t just ways to move traffic; they’re the lifeblood of cities, connecting neighborhoods and providing valuable public space.

Across the country, cities are reverting busy multi-lane one-way thoroughfares like Maple, Beech, Pine and Chestnut streets into calmer, single-lane two-way streets that respect the livability of neighborhoods and enhance the viability of local businesses. The results are almost entirely positive, from fewer vehicle collisions to decreases in crime.

LivableMHT's redesign of Chestnut Street on Streetmix.net
One possible reconfiguration for a newly two-way Chestnut Street

The slower traffic makes the streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as motorists, and it increases the livability and property values of the neighborhoods around them. And while the traffic is slower, there tends to be more of it, which is good for businesses, including the corner stores, shops and restaurants that already dot Maple, Beech, Pine and Chestnut streets.

Continue reading Improving Manchester’s streets for everyone

Coffee in the Queen City

Image by ilovecoffee.jp

Word has it that Manchester is the second-most coffee-obsessed city in these United States, behind only Portland, Me. Who knew? Compared to Portland (or the cities of the Pacific Northwest), Manchester isn’t exactly teeming with coffee shops, cafes and coffee culture. It’s hard to turn a corner in Portland, Me., without coming across a local coffee shop or roaster. Even Burlington, Vt., which ranks third behind Manchester and Portland, has a more established coffee scene.

The Men’s Health article that placed Manchester second considered “percentage of households that own coffeemakers and buy coffee; household average spent on coffee; coffee shops per capita; percentage of people who drink coffee and who drink five-plus cups a day” in determining their rankings. With the prevalence of Dunkin’ Donuts–41 within a ten-mile radius of Manchester–and the space devoted to coffee in Manchester’s supermarkets, the ranking makes a bit more sense.

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Cafe la Reine, Downtown

But there has never been a better time to be a coffee drinking in the Queen City than now. Within the past few years, downtown Manchester has seen a resurgence of locally owned coffee shops serving locally roasted coffee. And the rise in coffee roasters hasn’t been far behind, with the Millyard-based Java Tree/Cafe du Jour supplying many local restaurants, and CQ Roasters in Bedford recently being honored for roasting some of the best coffees of 2013.

Continue reading Coffee in the Queen City

Could the armory be reborn as a northern anchor to downtown?

Following the National Guard’s recent failing assessment of to the armory facility on Canal Street, there has been renewed interest in one of the city center’s largest under-development pieces of land. At nine acres, the armory site would be an incredibly valuable piece of land to a developer–and an unparalleled opportunity for the city to mark an impressive urban gateway– if the National Guard decides to find new digs.

Arthur Sullivan of Brady-Sullivan, which owns the eponymous tower next door, thinks the site could be a prime candidate for a major mixed-use development, especially given the influx of young people looking to not just work, but also live downtown. The armory site is a 10-minute walk from Arms Park in the heart of the Millyard and 15 minutes from City Hall, putting it within easy walking distance of thousands of jobs downtown. It’s also on the MTA’s free, frequent Green DASH bus route. The site also straddles the loose boundary between downtown and the North End and Oak Park, a leisurely walk away from Stark Park, Livingston Park, Webster Street and the Currier. That could appeal to young people and families who want to be within walking distance not only of downtown’s jobs, restaurants and nightlife, but of the North End parks and Oak Park’s cultural amenities.

Rendering of Portwalk Place, Portsmouth

Just as important, the armory site is one of the most visible in the city, sitting at the northern gateway to downtown, with almost direct highway access and sitting between Elm, Salmon and Canal streets. That’s where the mixed-use comes in: not just apartments, rowhouses or condos, but ground-floor retail, offices and possibly even an “anchor” retail tenant, something that could draw shoppers downtown. The large site means that ground-floor, street-facing retail spaces could be much bigger than what is commonly found along Elm and Hanover streets downtown. Larger retail spaces could mean that a mixed-use development on the armory site could attract the sort of tenants that currently only exist in shopping malls in the Manchester area. That’s a recipe that has proven successful for mixed-use development in already walkable neighborhoods in PortsmouthWest Hartford, Conn., Somerville, Mass. and elsewhere. Continue reading Could the armory be reborn as a northern anchor to downtown?

Photo by J. Hutchins

Manchester is falling into a pattern of decisions that are penny-wise, but pound-foolish. The City will be raising the cost of downtown parking, which is admittedly cheap compared to cities like Portsmouth, but Portsmouth already has a downtown that is thriving despite the “hassle of parking.” Downtown Manchester can get packed, but mostly during the workday. Nights and weekends, it’s a much quieter place, even if it’s doing pretty well. Now, a raise parking fee comes just as interest in downtown as a destination is starting to grow again.

Without improving downtown infrastructure and transit, raising the cost of parking just to stay within the tax cap will make it more difficult to draw people to downtown to shop or dine. Any increase in parking fees should direct some additional funding to programs like the MTA’s Green DASH, the free downtown shuttle bus, that could make people more likely to visit downtown outside of 9-5 workday hours. By bowing to the arbitrary (and insufficient) limit set by the tax cap, and relying instead on downtown parking fees, Manchester risks slowing the resurgence of its downtown and, ironically, potential future tax revenue.