Real Estate > Community Profiles > Nashua, N.H.
COMMUNITY PROFILE

Nashua's diverse, affordable

By Alice Giordano, Globe Correspondent, 6/08/2002

NASHUA, N.H. - When Osvaldo Salomon decided to leave Miami 12 years ago in search of a quiet life within a strong Latino community, he landed in New Hampshire. [an error occurred while processing this directive]

   
 AT A GLANCE

Incorporated: 1853 (as a city)
Government: mayor, 15-member Board of Aldermen
Area: 32 square miles
Distance from Boston: 50 miles
Population: 86,605
Tax rate: $22.50
Public schools: 11 elementary; 3 junior high; 1 senior high
Libraries: Court Street Library, Chandler Branch Library, Ethnic Center Library
Recreation: Holman Stadium, Nashua Center for Arts, Greeley Park, Mine Falls Park
Hospitals: Nashua Memorial; St. Joseph's; Brookside
Public transportation: Nashua Transit System (buses)
 
His new home, Nashua ("the Gate City") is markedly different than the rest of the state, which is 96 percent white. Of the remaining 4 percent (about 27,000 minority persons) in the state, more than two-thirds call this former mill city home.

"I think it`s pretty cool here," says Salomon, a partner in Oficina Hispana, a Nashua company that assists Latinos with such things as filing tax returns and immigration papers and translating documents. Many of his clients, he says, are business owners, and most are homeowners.

Salomon, 42, a native of the Dominican Republic, owns a two-family house in Nashua. He lives in one unit and rents out the other. When he bought the building in 1990, he paid $55,000. Today, it's worth at least triple that.

Nashua, the Granite State's second-largest city, is also home to an eclectic inventory of real estate, and while prices have risen since Salmon bought his home, there are still bargains, compared to what's available in much of Massachusetts.

RE/MAX Properties, for example, lists a three-bedroom home with a fireplace and brick patio, and almost an acre of land, for $214,900.

Cheaper house prices drew many Massachusetts residents to Nashua, willing to commute the 50 miles to Boston in exchange for a big house and a big yard for the price of a couple of parking spots in a Beacon Hill garage.

Julie Warhola, a long-time broker with RE/MAX, says the flow of Bay Staters migrating to Nashua has slowed in recent years. These days, Nashua's biggest market is local first-time buyers, who can still buy a single-family home for under $200,000.

In subdivisions such as Tangelwood and Crestwood, as well as in older residential developments like Harris Preserve, houses routinely start at over $400,000. Concord Street, a tree-lined boulevard of magnificent Victorian mansions, makes up a relatively pricey area known as the North End.

In 1986 and 1997, Money Magazine named Nashua as the best place to live in America. City officials love to tout such honorariums, as they do the ranking the FBI bestowed on Nashua in 1991, as the second-safest city in the nation. But local headlines don't always reflect apple-pie images.

Two men were recently charged with raping a woman near their home over a two-day period. Last month, a high school teacher was charged with sexually assaulting students; this month, a man who was visiting his father was stabbed to death while taking a walk. And drug crimes linked to traffickers in the Lowell-Lawrence area plague Nashua, police say. They are concerned about the availability in the city of Red Devil, a type of heroin.

The city has its share of eyesores, too, including several rundown neighborhoods in the downtown.

Christopher Hodgdon, president of the Nashua Chamber of Commerce, says the key to improving the area, which has mostly apartment buildings, is to rezone it as mixed-use, to allow retailers to invest in more of the properties. And things like the widening of Route 3 and the highly anticipated return of commuter rail to Nashua in 2004 will cause a "natural improvement," he says.

Also planned are a parkway off Route 3 to improve access to the city and a major project to refurbish empty mills along the Nashua River.

Downtown is already becoming a trendy retreat, though. Several restaurants have opened on Main Street, including Sabor Brasil, one of Salomon's favorites. Last year, the city got its first downtown coffee shop, Beacon Bean.

New Hampshire, one of the last states to officialy observe Martin Luther King Day, isn't known as a melting pot. But Warhola, the realtor, points out that on her street live a family from England, an African-American couple, a native American family, and a Chinese man.

"We`re all just homeowners here," she says.

"Nashua is on automatic pilot," Hodgdon says, "and it's going in a positive direction."

This story ran in the Boston Globe on 6/08/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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