Red Oak introduces ‘revolutionary’ design elements at 409 Elm Street apartment building

Sign Up For Our FREE Daily eNews!


PXL 20230404 163527404 scaled
409 Elm Street, a six-story apartment complex and co-working space with studio, 1- and 2-bedroom units on each floor. Photo/Carol Robidoux

MANCHESTER, NH – After years of legal hiccups, supply-chain interruptions and construction delays, Gerry Dupont is excited to show the world the culmination of patience and planning, what she describes as “out of this world” apartment living (which also accounts for the planetary names for each floor plan).

The modern color-block six-story structure at 409 Elm Street – its name is its address – features 90 “apartment homes” that range in price from $1,899 for “The Pluto,” a 431-square-foot studio, up to $2,999 for “The Jupiter,” a 2-bed/2-bath 914-square-foot top floor corner unit facing Elm Street with a seemingly-endless view.

In between there is “The Astro” – a robotic studio (344 square feet) featuring the innovative Ori Cloud Bed that transforms a built-in love seat into a queen-sized bed without sacrificing space; and “The Neptune,” a 588-square-foot 1 bed/1 bath apartment with private balcony. And each floor plan ranges in price depending on which floor and what view – the higher the floor, the higher the price.

For example, a second-floor Jupiter with a northerly view on Willow Street is $2,499; the same apartment on the sixth floor is $2,929.

There is a washer/dryer and dishwasher in every apartment, as well as energy-efficient windows and soundproofing between floors.


On a recent tour of the building, which officially began leasing on April 7, Dupont spoke enthusiastically about every detail and finishing touch – from the inclusion in rent of hot water and WiFi, to LED lighting, “smart” locks and thermostats, Dupont even included a tour stop on the rooftop, where a large solar array quietly soaks up the sun, with potential to generate enough energy to power the building’s common areas and reduce tenants’ electric bills. Anything left after that will go into the neighborhood grid.

In the rear of the building there is plentiful parking – 1 spot for each studio and 1-bedroom unit, and 2 spots for each 2-bedroom unit, as well as “Juice Box” electric car-charging stations. After entering there’s a secure mail area and automated package delivery system, and elevator for residents.

 

Floor plans price range – Pluto: $1,899-$1,939; Astro: $1,999-$2,119; Neptune: $1,929-$2,039; Jupiter: $2,499-$2,999.


Pet-friendly (up to 2 pets per unit) also means there’s a pet-washing station in the building, and a gym with machines, free weights and an exercise/yoga room. There are also plentiful storage cages in the basement because no matter who you are or where you live, there is always “stuff” you bring along, from seasonal decor to personal nostalgia, that you don’t need in your everyday space.

The walkability factor is also a selling point – Market Basket is directly across the street, and it’s just a hop, skip and jump to restaurants, The Palace and Rex theatres, SNHU Arena and all that the downtown offers which, according to the city’s master plan, is about to explode with more apartment units, retail and restaurant options over the next two years.

“This is exciting because it is revolutionary. There are no apartments in the state of New Hampshire that have the features we have here. It’s been a pretty interesting process and it’s taken a long time but we’re proud of the product we have to offer to our residents,” says Dupont.


Amenities Slideshow


She is particularly excited about the lobby and its centerpiece – a huge interactive array of screens which can detect a person’s presence and then provide information accordingly. Want to know the weather? Looking for local events happening this week? Interested in a virtual tour of available apartments? It’s all just a touch-screen away. There is a coffee/snack bar just beyond the lobby.

The building is also the new home to Red Oak’s business offices, which have moved from Hanover Street and are located to the left once you enter the lobby from Elm Street. To the right, a labyrinth of co-working spaces in various configurations are ready to go.


IMG 8152 scaled
The centerpiece of the lobby is an interactive screen.

“Co-working is the future of office space. The era is over where a young person graduates from college and they get a job at BAE and they stay there for 40 years. That era is gone,” says Dupont. “These young people, they’re smart. They’re high-tech. They know what’s happening. They might go and work at BAE for three to five years  and gain some real experience, but then they have an idea to start their own business, and so those are the ones who are going to use these types of co-working spaces.”

Although this particular development doesn’t address the dire need for so-called workforce “affordable” housing, Dupont is quick to point out that Red Oak has, for decades, provided a range of housing options, including units that anyone can afford.

“We’re a retail operation. That means anybody who walks in here, I can find an apartment for them,” Dupont says. “If you want a cute little micro-studio, we have that at 64 Merrimack Street – all utilities included. It’s clean and neat. It doesn’t have smart locks. It doesn’t have a microwave, but it’s clean and neat, has a refrigerator and a bed. It’s liveable.”


Twenty years ago that kind of unit from Red Oak would go for $599. Now it would be $1,100, Dupont says.

“For someone who’s working, that’s an affordable apartment. We call it workforce housing, and those are the people involved with cleaning an office building or working at Market Basket or in other service industries. We need those people and so there’s a need for that and we have it –  64 Merrimack Street has 41 studio and one-bedroom apartments.”

Dupont also highlights another building of workforce housing they operate at 261 Pine Street, as well as newer luxury units at 875 Elm.

“Again, that’s about 45 apartments there, and heat’s included, which is a nice benefit. It’s affordable. We also have apartments at the other end, the penthouse at Red Oak at 875 Elm, which is gorgeous,” she says.

Unlike some other developers, Dupont says she and her husband, Ron, remain New Hampshire-focused.

“We’re both from Nashua, born and brought up. We love New Hampshire and we’re staying in New Hampshire. Some people ask us if we’d ever branch out to Massachusetts or Vermont but no, we know this state and love this state. We’re New Hampshire people,” Dupont says.

PXL 20230404 152516215 scaled
Rear parking lot with a view of Valley Cemetery. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Standing on the rooftop Dupont does a 180, her arm extended in a sweeping motion that leads the eye from construction bulldozers at Auburn and Canal, where more apartments are coming, to one of the oldest enclaves, historic Valley Cemetery, where those with rear-facing units will have a front-row seat for the dozens of turkeys that have staked a claim on that green space.

Manchester is a city in progress, something Dupont understands from the inside out after decades in the landlord trenches. And like all those in the business of residential housing, she knows that through all the economic and social ebbs and flows, the need for safe, well-maintained and – going forward – high-tech eco-friendly housing – remains a constant.

PXL 20230404 153433225 scaled
Rooftop solar array with a view of the neighboring SNHU Arena. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Dupont is optimistic for Manchester.

“New Hampshire is a great state, and the idea of low taxes and local control is really important. There’s always going to be a draw to Manchester. It’s the largest city in the state and it’s the center of the state. So we’re optimistic and very happy to be here in Manchester. Are there problems? Sure. They’re in Nashua, too, and Concord, and other places.  But we feel by our  perseverance and our hard work and our dedication we can help to keep our properties in conditions that are going to draw and attract people.”

She refers to a meeting held early in 2023 by the city at The Rex Theatre inviting businesses to weigh in on how the city can help in addressing pressing issues which, at that time included a large homeless encampment on Pine Street outside the emergency shelter. Since then, the city has opened a temporary emergency shelter on Beech Street and a 16-bed shelter for women, on Brook Street, and the encampment was cleared.

“It seemed that when business people spoke up more happened, and more quickly,” Dupont says, adding that there are still issues to be addressed including on Hanover Street, where they are in the process of developing another market-rate residential building across the street from the Palace Theatre.

“We’re finding on Hanover Street, which is the premiere street in Manchester, there is still an issue there. We’ve lost retail tenants – Statement Boutique, who’s been there 12 years, is leaving in July. She loves it there but she just can’t take it anymore,” Dupont says.

PXL 20230404 161959312 scaled
Gerry Dupont in one of the ground-floor co-working spaces at 409 Red Oak. Photo/Carol Robidoux

She notes that COVID changed the way many people do business. Leveraging online sales tactics and reducing the need for a brick-and-mortar storefront goes along with that territory, and so some business owners are opting for leaner operations. But it’s also frustrating, in their case, to have to send staff around daily to move people from doorways and clean up human waste and other trash left behind.

The loss of retail – and residential – clients due to the issue of unhoused people basically “living” in doorways and alleys, and the associated mess that goes with it – is something she says the city needs to keep working on.

“It’s got to be a real focused effort for the city to constantly be in those downtown areas, policing, cleaning and checking all of that,” Dupont says.

PXL 20230404 144355864 scaled
Still getting set up during the first week of April, the lobby has modern seating and there is an adjacdent coffee bar for residents and guests. Photo/Carol Robidoux

“But it shouldn’t be Manchester’s sole responsibility to take care of every vulnerable person who has needs. I bet if you talked to those people who were living at the encampment you’d find they were from Bow or Candia or Hooksett or wherever. But they feel that this was the hub for the services they need,” Dupont says. “And from that perspective, it’s not just the local government that should be focusing on these issues, but it really needs to come from our governor.”

Dupont says the issues cities are facing aren’t new ones, but they’re long-running issues in need of fresh solutions.

“From the beginning of time there’s always been the most vulnerable and indigent people in every society. It’s a fact of life. And while that’s not new, there has to be new ways to be innovative and create some solutions,” Dupont says. The first big step is to diversify the locations where services are being given to people.”

It’s easy for someone to say developers should just build more affordable units, but it’s not that simple, Dupont says.

“The amount of regulations and requirements that are put on a developer of multi-family housing would blow your mind,” she says.

For example, the corridor on Elm Street where their newest apartments sit rarely  – if ever – loses power. The bank of Eversource generators that power Elm Street is located in the basement of Red Oak’s building at 875 Elm Street.

“They don’t go down. City Hall can’t go down. This building we’re in right now is on that grid, but yet they forced us at the cost of more than $300,000 to put in an auxiliary generator, just in case power would be gone. It will probably never, ever, be used but we’ll pay to maintain it and make sure it’s operating. That’s one small example of 25 more I could give you that make the cost of creating affordable housing prohibitive for a developer,” Dupont says.

Screenshot 2023 04 15 at 12.24.17 PM


It’s been a week since they started leasing and according to 409 Elm Street’s website there are 56 units available out of 88 (two of the total 90 will temporarily remain furnished sample units for showing). A ribbon cutting is planned for April 20 in conjunction with Greater Manchester Chamber’s “Network It Night,” which will give Dupont a chance to show off the place to the business community.

After years of buzz, Dupont says it’s gratifying to introduce to the public what she says is the state’s most modern and innovative apartment complex.

“What’s always been No. 1 for us is that Red Oak is a company known for caring about our residents because if our residents are happy they’re going to stay, or if they need to upsize their apartment, they’re going to choose another one of our properties,” Dupont says. “Everywhere we go there’s a buzz about it, people asking us how things are coming along. It’s a good buzz, and we’ve worked hard over all these years to build that positive reputation.”


 

About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!