Two real estate brokers visit the former state school property
Two real estate brokers considering a public offer to market the former 220-acre Lake District facility in Laconia said on Wednesday they see great potential in the property – if the city is willing to cooperate with development plans.
Roger Dieker, senior vice president and chief broker at CBRE in Manchester, and H. Gregory Johnson, broker at HG Johnson Real Estate in Keene, spent two hours walking the grounds, looking inside buildings and ask questions of Jared Nylund, who manages the bidding process for the Department of State Administrative Services.
The offers are due Sept. 10, and Nyland said three other companies have expressed interest in partnering with the state to market the property for sale.
The state tried for years to sell the land, which overlooks Lake Winnisquam, and at least once rejected a $2 million offer from the city. But state officials hope a recent change in the law will boost its chances of success: One element of the budget trailer bill gave Gov. Chris Sununu the power to sell the property without going through multiple tiers. state review or offer the property first to Laconia, two necessary steps to sell other “surplus” state properties. Sununu only needs the approval of at least three of the five members of the Executive Council.
The arrangement has concerned city officials, who fear the city’s interests will be ignored. Mayor Andrew Hosmer is also concerned that a buyer may evict the state’s 911 emergency call center and the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Association, both of which are on the lot.
The Fire Aid Association provides emergency fire dispatch and emergency medical services for 35 towns in the Lake District. Its leader, Jon Goldman, shares Hosmer’s concern. He said relocating the dispatch center would cost the 35 member cities, some of which have populations under 1,000, $7 million to buy land and erect a new building with the necessary security and communication lines.
Mutual aid “get on it”
On Tuesday, Goldman sent a letter to Sununu, executive councilors and all legislators whose districts include or touch Laconia inviting them to visit and see the association’s role in the region.
“It’s not so much that I don’t want to have to move,” Goldman said Wednesday. “Everyone wants to build a new building. That would be cool. I just can’t afford it. The fate of the (mutual aid) district depends on it.
Goldman hopes that the fire aid association, the 911 call center, which is the sole backup of the state’s main call center in Concord, and the state can reach a “fair” agreement for them. allowing you to stay or move without huge costs.
At least one of the potential bidders is open to keeping both agencies on the property. “I think that’s an advantage for the buyer,” Johnson said. “The state is a good tenant.”
Wednesday’s tour showed both the property’s best features — lake and mountain views — but also its problems. Few buildings appear to be salvageable and many likely contain asbestos. Animal shelters, sleeping quarters, and maintenance shops that date back to the Laconia State School are either crumbling or in very poor condition. And it would require considerable investment in infrastructure such as water and sewage. “I think the property has huge potential,” Johnson said after the visit, adding that a lot would depend on those issues.
Like Johnson, Dieker said success will require “a lot” of cooperation among all stakeholders. While the city hopes to see property redeveloped – and introduce property taxes – “now is the city’s opportunity to take this seriously.”