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LACONIA, NH — Four proposals for redeveloping the former Laconia State School complex have made the cut and are now finalists in a continuing process of selecting a buyer for the 225-acre property.
The four were selected among an unspecified number of proposals that were submitted by the Aug. 19 deadline, Executive Councilor Joe Kenney said.
The offers were submitted to CBRE, the commercial real estate broker which has been marketing the property on behalf of the state Department of Administrative Services, the agency which has overseen the property. The property has gone largely unused since the State School was shut down in 1991 and the state prison closed in 2009.
CBRE started the process of marketing the property late last year after the Executive Council awarded the contract to the multinational real estate services firm last October.
Kenney said that he wants the process moving forward to be as open and transparent as possible, understanding that there will need, at times, to be a level of confidentiality when selecting which of the four competing proposals to recommend as the ultimate buyer.
Meanwhile a committee is being formed to work with officials in Administrative Services to review each of the proposals. Laconia Planning Director Dean Trefethen will be the city’s representative on the ad-hoc panel, according to City Manager Scott Myers.
City officials, including Mayor Andrew Hosmer, have long advocated that the property be transformed into a multi-use development, with commercial and retail uses, with housing that people who work at jobs in the city can afford included in the mix.
“When [Administrative Services] is able to share information I will be happy to be part of the discussion,” Hosmer said.
Kenney said that he expects the review committee’s process to move forward with the sale of the property will be outlined to the Executive Council at its meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 7.
Kenney said he was pleased that the process of selling the property now appears to be in its final phase.
“It’s long overdue,” he said.
Kenney noted the prospect of finally putting the State School property back on the city’s tax rolls is coming at a time when there is already considerable economic development in the city.
“This is the big one,” he said, “with lots of potential.”
According to the prospectus outlined by CBRE, the four submissions that will be reviewed should contain each company’s development vision for the property along with a development timeline and a detailed explanation of the firm’s development experience and financial capabilities.
The companies were also told to provide evidence of their financial capabilities to fulfill the obligations of the multiyear development project and include a feasibility study of the envisioned project to determine its financial viability.
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