Condos seek to redefine Manchester

Realtor Aisha Hopkins, contractor David Hopkins and designer Dawn Gogol are teaming up on posh Anchors of Manchester condos. - Charlie Bermant
Realtor Aisha Hopkins, contractor David Hopkins and designer Dawn Gogol are teaming up on posh Anchors of Manchester condos.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant

Manchester is getting a facelift this month, as the newly constructed Anchors luxury condominiums will go on sale. And as part of a state-of-the-art, mixed-use facility, it will provide a connection with the past by offering a home for the latest iteration of the Manchester general store.

The condos, which are now on sale, range from $525,000 to $1.4 million.

“This is a high-quality project,” said Dawn Gogel, a partner in Hoppet Design and Construction. “There is all kinds of positive energy here.”

Gogel, along with contractor David Hopkins, have pooled their talents for the new project, which includes 11 condos of varying size, price and style.

“These are not cookie-cutter homes,” Hopkins said. “Each one has a different flavor and design. We have some modern and some traditional. None of these look like the others.”

Along with this stylistic diversity, there is a consistency of quality and craftsmanship. All components are top-of-the-line, she said.

The floors and walls are soundproofed and solid. All units are wired for television, music and the Internet and include little touches like a double dishwasher, a faucet above the stove in order to fill pots, and a recessed disposal switch.

The showcase unit even has a built-in espresso machine.

Even if such features are standard in some parts of the world, Manchester has never seen anything like this.

Hopkins hopes to create a “design standard” toward which others can aspire, while building a community center that will serve the town for hundreds of years to come.

In the meantime, he admits, “Something like this might not get any attention in Seattle or Tacoma. In a larger city, it would just disappear.”

The project broke ground in 2007 amid some controversy, since it exceeded the existing height limits.

Hopkins said that some local advocates were “afraid of change” and have since gone out of their way to thank him now that the building is nearing completion.

But it is this month when the rubber meets the road for the $12 million project.

The economy has slowed the housing market to a crawl, and none of the condos have yet sold. Prospective buyers have backed away when they have been unable to sell their current homes.

“When we did our original research, we thought we would sell to empty-nesters, people who wanted a summer home, or people who traveled a lot and didn’t want the hassle of a yard,” Hopkins said. “We were completely wrong in our research, and many of those who are interested are locals who want to simplify their lives.”

Like many developers, Hoppet has cut its prices in order to appeal to prospective homebuyers.

Hopkins remains optimistic, but admits, “If we don’t sell anything this year, we could lose our principal.”

Still, he plans to hang in until the properties are sold, whatever it takes.

He believes the cutting-edge homes are among the best available today, in the same way some of the older Manchester homes defined design standards when they were built 80 years ago.

The development follows the now-popular mixed-use template. Living space is on the upper floors, with the ground level dedicated to office and retail space.

At this point there are no takers for the retail, but the same optimism as with the condos prevails.

While few current Manchester residents are expected move into one of the condos, the general store will have an impact on the community.

At just 900 square feet, it is less than a third the size of the last version of the store.

Hopkins promises to provide a wide selection of groceries, wine, beer along with “stuff you won’t find in the average 7-Eleven.”

He expects much of the business will come from people who land at the nearby dock and need refreshment.

And in this brand-conscious world where there are too many choices, he will stock anything that a regular customer requests.

“I think a lot of people will go out of their way to shop here,” he said. “I've heard some people say that if they can walk down here every day and get a paper they will cancel their subscription.”

The Anchors at Manchester will hold an open house from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb 28-29.

A ribbon-cutting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Feb 26.

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