Owner of Tuscan Kitchen and Tuscan Market buy Part of the RockApril 17, 2015
by Bob Gibbs
Joe Faro, owner of the Tuscan Kitchen and Tuscan Market, has purchased 50 acres of the Rockingham Park racetrack property. According to county records the purchase of 50 acres on the northerly end of the 170-acre racetrack site was for approximately $9.6 million.
Faro has stated that he has no immediate plans for the site.
Past plans for the site included creating a downtown area for Salem, similar to the look and feel of Newburyport, Massachusetts.
A 2014 decision of the Salem Planning board opened the door to the sale of the 50 acres of real estate. The area purchased is adjacent to Pleasant Street to Route 28 and to the area of the municipal parking lot on Central Street. The planning board approved the subdivision of the 50-acre parcel from the remaining 120 acres of the Rockingham Park property.
This area was formerly used as the barn area for the thoroughbred horses running at the track. It also had housing for the jockeys. Currently, the barns and other buildings on the property are slowly collapsing and are overgrown with trees and grass.
In previous talks, Rockingham Park president and general manager Ed Callahan said the 50-acre parcel had basically been unused for the past four years.
Millennium Gaming of Las Vegas holds the option to purchase the remainder of racetrack if the New Hampshire legislature approves expanded gambling legislation and it is able to secure a casino license from the state.
Although the sale could mean needed development of the unused property, horsemen are not necessarily happy with the sale. Recent casino proposals made by Millennium include bringing back live horse racing. With the barn property being sold, horsemen are assuming that any live racing would mean that horses would be brought to the track on the day of the race.
During a 2013 town hall meeting, the Millennium owners and architects showed drawings of the proposed new casino. The proposal included the racetrack and a small barn area.
On a race fan web blog, horseplop.com, blogger Windsah Winnah, recently wrote, “I think the barn area was a goner, no matter what. A reopened Rock would be sans barn area, as that’s an expense the owners can do without. The track will be all ship in, if they race, but the TB people despise shipping in to race.”
Many on the pro-casino side of the argument have that new state representatives will pull off passing a bill that brings a casino to Salem.