Grassy Knoll project moving forward

January 11, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

Portsmouth developer Jeff Albrecht and associates working with him are not letting the grass grow under their feet as they move forward with the proposed “Grassy Knoll” development project that begins at a green space on Washington and Second Streets in Portsmouth.

Albrecht gave area business, labor, education and government leaders an update on the project at a meeting Thursday morning at the Holiday Inn on Second Street in Portsmouth.

“We want to start off with this grassy knoll area right across the street as a part of a pilot program,” Albrecht said. “Ed (Newsome of Minford) wants to put in Salasarita’s, a very upbeat Mexican place that has fresh ingredients; a very extensive menu. We want to have a coffee place where you can get a cappuccino or a good fresh cup of coffee with some nice lounge chairs, free Wi-Fi, and something for the kids at the (Shawnee State) University across the street; plus coffee drinkers who want to come in and read the newspaper.”

Albrecht said he would also like to open a pizza restaurant in the development.

“I’m going to call it ‘Blue Dog Pizza,’ ‘Eat More Pizza,’ would be the name,” Albrecht said. “So we’ll have maybe a brick oven to make pizza in a nice friendly, comfy atmosphere, and a pitcher of beer and a glass of wine. And there’s a yogurt store from the Ashland Mall that would be interested in having a yogurt store here.”

Albrecht said there is also interest in placing some retail stores in that area.

“Out in front of this whole area will be a patio,” Albrecht said. “It will have a wrought iron fence around it, outside seating, and we’ll put heaters out there for cooler times,” Albrecht said. “What it would be is a kind of entertainment place for college kids to come and for the community to use.”

Another phase of the project would be condominiums.

“We’ll have six condos,” Albrecht said. “All we need is the property under option and I think we have the tenants ready to sign leases. Financially, it’s a sound deal, and we could use the trades (unions) to build the place - build it quick and build it cheap - and everybody would be a winner, and we’re just going to get the property under option and do it.”

Progress is the goal, according to those involved.

“We’re trying to move forward,” Brian Noble, a developer working with Albrecht said. “We’ve got five property owners that we’ve got to get under option. So it’s moving closer. I know we’ve got to move pretty quickly. Jeff tells me it’s not an option. We’ve got to get it done.”

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com