No Closing On Laconia State School as Deadline Passes without the $21.5 Million

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Aerial view of the former Laconia State School.


LACONIA – The state’s “put up or shut up date” to sell the former Laconia State School for $21.5 million has come and gone Monday without closing on the property after the developer missed several earlier deadlines.

This means the state will likely put the 200-plus acre tract back on the market and the prospective developer may lose her $200,000 security deposit.

The state accepted the offer of Manchester developer Robynne Alexander for her plan “Legacy at Laconia”  from a handful of prospective buyers in late 2022, considering it by far the best offer to redevelop the former home for the state’s developmentally disabled citizens into a massive housing and retail development.

At 5 p.m. Monday Scott Tranchemontagne, spokesman for Alexander, said they did not close on the project and they would have a statement forthcoming.

Commissioner of Administrative Services Charles Arlinghaus was not immediately available for comment.

George Bald, who chaired the former Lakeshore Redevelopment Planning Commission for the state to look at the best uses for the property beginning in 2018, said he was disappointed but not surprised given the fact that the property had about $20 million worth of demolition and removal work that had been identified along with water and sewer connections needed before any new development could move forward.

Gov. Chris Sununu sought new legislation in 2021 to give him and the Executive Council sole authority to sell the property.

The buildings on the property, Bald said, have a lot of asbestos which will need to be removed but at least they know that there are no underground chemical issues to deal with.

“The biggest disappointment I have is that the city has been an excellent partner through this whole process. I know they did everything they could to see the sale through,” which would have finally returned the land to the city’s tax rolls.

But Bald said he is not pessimistic about its future development. 

Sununu said two weeks ago the next developer to come along will have a lot more questions answered than there have ever been about the property and the state has resolved some outstanding issues related to relocation of a snowmobile trail on the property.

But Bald said he had his worries about the proposal brought by Alexander.

“I was concerned about their (the developer’s) ability to raise the $21 million for the property. It would have been one thing if it was an undeveloped piece of land,” Bald said.

Attempts to reach Laconia Mayor Andrew Hosmer were not immediately successful.

The deadline of April 22 to close or lose the deposit was made last month by Arlinghaus and Sununu.

In the intervening period the Secretary of State’s office confirmed there is an ongoing investigation by the state’s Securities bureau into Alexander, about which they refused to elaborate on whether it was related to this or other projects.

“We’ve been dancing with this for awhile,” Executive Councilor Ted Gatsas, R-Manchester, said at the last council meeting, noting it had been 18 months since a purchase and sales agreement was signed to build over 1,200 units of housing, but no closing.

Gatsas noted there have been numerous newspaper articles including one in which the state’s Bureau of Securities Regulation was investigating Alexander, who is developer of other projects in the state. Gatsas asked Arlinghaus if that changed anything.

“We are where we were last meeting. April 22 is the date to put up or shut up,” Arlinghaus said. “And we will see what happens.”

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