By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – The Executive Council voted to table a contract request Wednesday to market and sell the former Laconia State School in Laconia.
It was done to give councilors more time to review the documents and get input.
At the request of Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, D-Concord, and District 1 Councilor Joseph Kenney, R-Wakefield, the council voted Wednesday to table the contract with CBRE, a Delaware Profit Corporation registered in New Hampshire, with offices in Manchester.
The document calls for the company to be paid a flat fee of $50,000 for upfront costs to get it on the market and then a commission of 5 percent or $50,000, whichever is greater, for the sale of more than 200 acres off Parade Road and North Main Street in Laconia.
The land was once used to house the state’s developmentally disabled.
Warmington said the council received correspondence from the city of Laconia’s Mayor Andrew Hosmer Tuesday night at 10 p.m., along with a lot of unrelated mail on other council agenda items, and other councilors may not have had a chance to review the agreement in time for a meeting vote.
Gov. Chris Sununu noted the contract with CRBE is for a period of two years and that the timeline is not short. There will be opportunities for input, he said, but noted that the final deal will be struck by a vote of the five-member Executive Council as detailed in legislation passed with the biennial budget and made effective by his signature as of July 1.
Hosmer and other elected officials in Laconia have raised concern that the process as outlined will not allow for local input as it would if the state declared it surplus, though he said he supports getting the valuable state property back on the tax rolls for the first time in about a century.
Hosmer’s concern, discussed in a recent interview with InDepthNH.org, is that the state might just take the highest offer for the premium part of the land and the property will be left to decay with the aging state structures of the former institution still sitting on the land.
Hosmer is a former Democratic state Senator who has long been watching what the future will hold for the tract. The contract calls for the land to be sold in its entirety and as-is.
CBRE will need to do an extensive review of the work of the Lakeshore Redevelopment Planning Commission as is called for in the contract.
For several years, the commission has been looking toward the highest and best uses for the land – valuable for new housing and possible retail – and will work with the Department of Administrative Services to develop a “call for offers” scenario after identifying potential buyers and developers.
There will be advertising and direct marketing by CRBE if the agreement is signed. In his explanation for the request to retain the services of CBRE, Charlie Arlinghaus, commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services, told the council there were other bidders but the highest-ranking was CBRE.
Colliers, NAJ Norwood and KW Coastal were listed as bidders in the documents submitted. The $50,000 guaranteed fee was offered, Arlinghaus said, to attract bidders due to the fact that the sale price may be lower given the amount of clearing of the land that may be required for development and the extensive up-front costs of work needed before getting it to the market.
The matter could be removed from the table for discussion at the next council meeting, scheduled for Oct. 27 at 10 a.m. at the State House.