Real estateLand and homes in Keene are generally cheaper than in the larger cities (along 3 and I-93). The town is mostly nice with a less nice area north and northeast of downtown.
Keene - $46,900, .94ac on Base Hill Road. This lot is near highway 9 and is just two or three minutes to all of the new shopping (Wal-Mart, Borders, etc.). It would probably not be as good for a family as it's on a busier road. It's wooded and slopes up from the road. There are newer colonial style houses on each side of it.
Keene - $55,000, 5.97 ac on Darling Road. This lot is in a development that spans Darling road. We didn't actually locate the lot but when driving around we noticed an extraordinary number of homes listed for sale on that road. The development has very nice homes and larger lots. I believe there's an association. I'm not sure why so many homes are for sale there but the homes and development looks nice and upscale to me.
Keene - $59,900, 5.17 ac on Hurricane Road. We aren't sure we found this lot, though we think we did (there wasn't a sign). It is down a road leaving town but it is not a main highway. The lot (if it's the one we think it was) slopes down from the road and would potentially have views of the mountains in the background.
Keene - $240,000 - $250,000, Starlight drive (multiple homes). We looked on Starlight drive which is a new housing development with primarily colonial style houses on smaller lots. There were two for sale signs posted on homes that were already built, one of which was a bi-level (split entry) and one of which was a colonial (it indicated sale pending). There were two MLS listings for, I believe, other houses for sale yet to be built. The neighborhood is right across the street from Keene High School. These prices are for a 4 bed / 2 1/2 bath colonial in the 2200-2400 sq. ft. range in that neighborhood.
Keene - $250,000, 4 bed / 2 bath / 2224 sq. ft on Meeting House Lane. This house is in a development called Drummer Hill. The first phase of the development (which you must drive through to get to this home) is extremely cookie-cutterish. The houses in phase two are nicer, newer, and less similar to each other. This house looked attractive from the outside. It's still close to Downtown (maybe 5-8 minutes) but is up in 'the hills' a little bit.
Keene - $250,000 4 bed / 2 bath / 2000 sq. ft. on Gilsum Street. This is a 1900 Victorian style house that appears to be very well kept. However, it is just northeast of downtown and not in a very nice neighborhood. I suspect in a nicer neighborhood it would be worth substantially more money. The MLS indicates several attractive features and the location, though not as nice, is convenient.
Overall real estate impressions:
It looks to me like Keene is a nicer but not upscale/snooty/fancy town. It's seems nicer than many others with the exception of the area northeast of downtown which is a little run down and not very attractive to me. The pricing of real estate in Keene is attractive especially considering the proximity to all the comforts of home. There is no major airport nearby (Manchester is closest at roughly 1:15 away), and there are just a few stores / conveniences missing, but essentially there's everything you need right there in town.
Commerce and Restaurants
Keene has most everything a person would need on a regular basis.
There is an area south of downtown that is being developed with many new
stores. There is a fairly new Wal-Mart, and a brand new shopping
center (still under construction) which has Home Depot, Borders, Pier 1,
and more stores coming (including a Target). There is also a
K-mart in town as well as Sears and JCPennys. The only notable
thing missing is a big electronics retailer like Best Buy or Circuit
Keene also features a mall called the Colony Mill Marketplace. We went there for the Taste of Keene (more on that below) and walked around most of the mall. It isn't a large mall and doesn't have chain stores. It's more of a boutique type mall which appears to be in an old renovated industrial building (maybe the Colony Mill?). It is in outstanding shape and is a pleasant place to shop and hang out. I would guess there are 20 to 40 stores give or take in the mall.
The downtown area of Keene is nice and quaint. At the center of it is a 'circle' with shops all around and the city 'stuff' on the north side of it (there's a little park in the middle). The streets surrounding downtown (particularly Main St. to the south) are lined with little shops and restaurants. It appears to be the kind of place where someone with a bent for a small business could do well.
Here is a list of some stores (mainly chains) I recall seeing in Keene: Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Staples (office supplies), Shaw's (grocery), Home Depot, Borders, Sears, JCPennys, Pier 1 imports, Dollar Tree (or some kind of dollar store), Payless Shoes, Midas Mufflers, The UPS Store, A Movie Theater (didn't catch which variety - I think it was 6 or 8 screens), auto dealerships for the Big 3 plus several popular imports, and Walgreens. Coming soon is a Bed Bath and Beyond (I believe already under construction) and a Target (I don't think it's under construction quite yet).
Keene features pretty much all of the fast food chain restaurants as well as a handful of sit-down chains. There are also numerous local eating establishments, some of which we were able to sample at the taste of Keene (details below). There is no Denny's and I don't believe any other nationwide 'generic' low end sit down restaurant (like Bob Evans, Perkins, etc.) in Keene either. There is a Bickfords, which is a New England sit down restaurant chain. I happened to stumble upon Rynborn Restaurant as a result of the Taste of Keene. They have live blues regularly. I saw a schedule while I was at the taste and it appears as though they offer live music more than just the standard Saturday / Sunday.
Here is a list of some restaurants I recall seeing: McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC, Subway, Applebee's, Bickfords, Pizzeria Uno.
EventsOn Sunday, November 9th, we attended the Taste of Keene event at the Colony Mill Marketplace. 18 local restaurants participated in the event which went from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Each restaurant is given a table to present their food which is offered in small portions. Tokens are used to pay for the food. The tokens cost $.50 each and portion prices were between 2 and 6 tokens ($1 to $3). Many different kinds of food were available. We sampled 6 items for a total of $16.00 (31 tokens for food plus one extra to take home with us).
EF Lane Hotel / Salmon Chase American Bistro offered a Lobster Bisque with Bay Scallops which was absolutely outstanding for 6 tokens. That may well have been the tastiest treat of the day. House Afire offered 6 Jumbo Wings with a choice of two different sauces for 4 tokens. We got the 'Spicy Gold Sauce' which was similar but slightly different than a standard Buffalo wing sauce. The portion size of the wings was the biggest of all. Luca's Mediterranean Cafe had a Tiramisu for 4 tokens. It was different from other Tiramisu we've had and we didn't enjoy it quite as much, though I personally though it was okay. Rynborn Restaurant offered Baby Back Ribs for 6 tokens that were wonderful. They were Bar-b-q with a pleasant sauce and the kids even enjoyed them. Fritz Belgian Fries had a Smoked Gouda & Proscuitto Panini for 5 tokens that was very tasty. I noticed they also had a Stella glass on their table which would lead a person to believe they may have good quality beer at their location. We also enjoyed the Pad Thai and Spring Roll from Thai Garden for 6 tokens. It was very authentic (I've been to Thailand many times) and tasted great.
In addition to the food, the stores were all open for business and they had a lady playing Christmas music on the piano near the food court where we sat to eat. She was a very good piano player and we enjoyed the music and atmosphere, though I don't recall her name now. The event was well attended. Because the mall isn't very large, there was a small amount of 'crowding' but I didn't feel claustrophobic at all. In fact, for me it was a comforting feeling to be around all of the local people enjoying the local cuisine in the local mall.
Drive times can be found on the statewide page.
There are no Interstate Highways in Keene however there are several
good highways that go through town and provide access to and through
Property taxes in Keene are higher than some other areas in the state (around $29 / $1000 assessed value). I didn't look closely at all of the schools but we got to see the high school several times and it looks nice and new (and/or well maintained). We didn't visit or get information about any churches but we saw some in the course of driving around town.
Keene has a bit of a college town feel to it. Keene State College accounts for a significant percentage of the town's population which (due to the students and professors) keeps the demographic a bit younger.
Copyright 2003 Varrin Swearingen - to reproduce in any way (in whole or in part), please contact the author at: varrin at varrin dot com.