WHITEFIELD — Plans to revive the Allard Block were OK’d by the Planning Board last week.
Developer Robert Wisnouckas’s proposal to renovate the dormant building for mixed-use occupancy was unanimously granted site plan approval on Nov. 2.
Wisnouckas, 44, said work on the historic downtown property is already underway. The project timeline is uncertain, he said, due to the amount of work that needs to be done.
“Everything is broken in there,” he said. “So we’re bringing it back to where it needs to be.”
Located at the Route 3/116 intersection, the Allard is a three-story, 8,900-square-foot building located across from King’s Square.
It was built around 1900, has housed various tenants (such as dental offices, a video rental store, a bakery, an antique shop, and residential apartment units), and has been vacant for about 20 years.
Wisnouckas considered purchasing the property before the pandemic, and recently entered into a private sales agreement with the prior owner, Burleigh Wyman. The assessed value is $80,800. A sales price was not disclosed.
Asked why he bought the Allard, Wisnouckas said the project could reinvigorate the downtown and jump-start local economic development efforts.
“The appeal for me is taking something that has been sitting for so long and turning it into something that can be used again,” he said.
Wisnouckas intends to open a café on the ground floor (next to Sunny & Jillian’s Pizza & Pub), but his plans for the upper two floors are uncertain.
He told the Planning Board he wants to create up to seven short-term rentals (like Airbnb) and hoped to open a couple in the near future, in order to generate revenue and fund the renovation project which could take up to 10 years to complete.
However, he also mentioned the possibility that some of the upstairs space could be used for professional offices or a hiking hostel.
“I don’t know what’s going in upstairs yet,” he said. “I’m kind of figuring that out.”
Wisnouckas was raised in town, graduated from White Mountains Regional High School (Class of 1995), and works as a zip-line guide at Bretton Woods Resort.
He recently completed a 10-year renovation of his home, an old farmhouse, and took on The Allard as his first commercial redevelopment project.
He plans to rehab the building on his own, as time allows. But he reported strong community support, with volunteers stepping up to help.
Like Wisnouckas, they want to bring the Allard back to life, for the good of Whitefield.
“People want to see this building fixed up,” he said.
To see real-time project updates visit www.facebook.com/The-Allard-108500864957924