Two real estate brokers considering a state offer to market the former 220-acre Lake District facility in Laconia said on Wednesday they saw great potential in the property – if the city is willing to cooperate with plans to development.
Roger Dieker, senior vice president and management broker at CBRE in Manchester, and H. Gregory Johnson, broker at HG Johnson Real Estate in Keene, spent two hours scouring the grounds, looking inside the buildings and ask questions of Jared Nylund, who manages the tendering process for the Department of State Administrative Services.
Offers are expected on September 10, and Nyland said three other companies have expressed interest in partnering with the state to market the property for sale.
The state has tried for years to sell the land, which overlooks Lake Winnisquam, and has rejected a city’s $ 2 million offer at least once. But state officials are hopeful that a recent change in the law will increase its chances of success: Part of the budget trailer bill gave Gov. Chris Sununu the power to sell the property without going through multiple tiers of government. state examination or offer the property first in Laconia, two steps necessary to sell other “surplus” state property. Sununu only needs the approval of at least three of the five members of the Executive Board.
The arrangement has affected city officials, who fear the city’s interests will be ignored. Mayor Andrew Hosmer is also concerned that a buyer could evict the state’s emergency 911 call center and the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Association, both of which are on the ground.
The fire aid association provides emergency response to fire and emergencies in 35 towns in the Lake District. Its boss, Jon Goldman, shares Hosmer’s concern. He said the relocation of the dispatch center would cost the 35 member cities, some of which have fewer than 1,000 residents, $ 7 million to purchase land and erect a new building with the necessary security and communication lines.
Mutual aid “on this basis”
On Tuesday, Goldman sent a letter to Sununu, executive councilors and all lawmakers whose districts include or touch Laconia inviting them to visit and see the role the association plays in the region.
âIt’s not so much that I don’t want to have to move,â Goldman said Wednesday. âEveryone wants to build a new building. That would be cool. I can’t afford it. The fate of the (mutual aid) district depends on this.
Goldman is hoping that the firefighting association, the 911 call center, which is the sole safeguard of the state’s main call center in Concord, and that the state can strike a “fair” deal that will allow them to stay or move without huge expense.
At least one of the potential bidders is willing to keep both agencies on the property. âI think it’s a benefit for the buyer,â Johnson said. âThe state is a good tenant.
Wednesday’s visit showed both the property’s best features – lake and mountain views – but also its issues. Few of the buildings appear salvageable and many probably contain asbestos. The animal sheds, dormitories and maintenance workshops that date back to the Laconia public school either fall on their own or are in very poor condition. And it would take huge investments in infrastructure like water and sewage. âI think the property has huge potential,â Johnson said after the tour, adding that a lot would depend on these issues.
Like Johnson, Dieker said success will require “a lot” of cooperation among all stakeholders. If the city hopes to see the property redeveloped – and introduce property taxes – “now is the city’s opportunity to take this seriously.”