Work starting on NH welcome center upgrades

Associated Press

HOOKSETT, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire's welcome centers along Interstate 93 in Hooksett are getting an upgrade.

Gov. Maggie Hassan is taking part in a groundbreaking Thursday morning for the redevelopment of the centers, which will include restaurants, gasoline pumps and an interactive visitor's center.

Granite State Hospitality, LLC, also known as the Common Man Restaurants, will design, finance, build, operate, and maintain the service areas under a 35-year lease agreement with the state.

Each new building will feature a New Hampshire "mill-building architectural style" and will include such features as a 1950s style diner, Italian farmhouse restaurant, and old-time deli. The fueling stations will include a test run of plug-in stations for electric vehicles. The welcome centers also will feature newly expanded state liquor and wine outlets.

The project is expected to create over 130 long-term jobs. It is to be completed in April 2015.

"The welcome centers are often the first impression that visitors have of the state and this new facility will put our best foot forward. Providing modern and convenient facilities will help enhance our visitors' experience", said New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner Jeffrey Rose. "With tourism being the second-largest industry in the state, this will ensure that visitors have a positive impression of New Hampshire."