Aldermen grant 79-E tax relief to Elm Street building developer

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The Dunlap Building. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Tuesday, the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) approved a 79-E tax relief request for 959 Elm St., also known as the Dunlap Building.

Located at the corner of Elm and Amherst streets, the loss of Benefit Strategies’ offices in the building led building owner North Street Properties LLC to seek the assistance of Manchester’s Economic Development Office (MEDO) for the five-year tax relief request, aimed at converting former office space in the building into 36 multi-family residential units. Three commercial units on the first floor of the building would remain, with the next three floors of the five-story building containing 30 one-bedroom apartments and six studio apartments.

Constructed in 1879, the fifth story was built in 1908 and extensive renovations were made in 2002 and 2010, with debt related to those renovations now paid off. The building is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The assessed value of the building is expected to increase from $3 million to $5.7 million, with approximately $40,000 more in property taxes coming into the city per year if projections after the first year of the relief period remain constant until the relief period concludes. Costs for renovation are estimated at just under $7 million.

The BMA voted unanimously in favor of the proposal on a voice vote with the exception of Ward 4 Alderwoman Christine Fajardo, who expressed concern about the Historical Commission not weighing in on the renovations given the building’s historic character as well as the lack of affordable housing to be provided given in exchange for the tax relief.

MEDO Director Jodie Nazaka noted that Heritage Commission feedback is required for the demolition of historic buildings, but not for renovation, although New Hampshire municipalities can make their own guidelines requiring review.

Others on the board expressed comments from developers that building housing units has a difficult profit margin, more so with housing that meet’s U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department criteria for affordable housing.

BMA Chair Joseph Kelly Levasseur stated that the apartments here and coming in other parts of the city will eventually address the city’s current housing shortage and drive down the cost of rents as the change of supply and demand has impacted other rental price cycles in the past. However, he also noted that this approval set a precedent that developers seeking to revitalize empty buildings in the downtown area will now see 79-E requests are a prerequisite. While RSA 79-E allows for tax credits for the renovation any dilapidated, underutilized or historic buildings in a downtown or town center area, it had been generally granted only to owners of dilapidated buildings to this point in Manchester.

Under documents submitted by the MEDO to the BMA, renovation is expected to begin in June and be completed by May 2025.


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About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.