Former USA Springs site sold by town
Sleepnet CEO sees Nottingham property as logistics center
The town of Nottingham has agreed to sell the land that once was destined to become the site of the controversial USA Springs water bottling plant, but the buyer has no interest in selling water.
Tom Moulton, CEO of Sleepnet Corp. and president of De Niro Construction – both in Hampton – plans to develop the 489-acre and perhaps to lease it out as a logistics center
Moulton agreed to buy the site for $900,000, about $100,000 less than is owed to the town when it seized the property in 2017 for back taxes from entities controlled by Francesco Rotondo, the owner of USA Springs.
Rotondo spent millions of dollars securing a permit to withdraw 300,000 gallons of groundwater a day with the intention of bottling it and selling it overseas. However, fierce community opposition delayed the project and drove up the cost. The plan lost its financial backers during the recession and filed for bankruptcy reorganization in 2008, but fell victim to an international money-lending scam before the bankruptcy trustee stepped in and forced the company into a liquidation sale.
The land, with its half-finished building – basically structural columns with a roof and no walls – languished on the market for years, but any kind of real estate is in demand these days, and Moulton thinks it has potential.
“It is a good location four or five miles from Concord, and good room for expansion as well,” he told NH Business Review. He extolled the building’s 28-foot ceilings, which would be perfect for warehousing when completed.
Moulton said Sleepnet is looking to expand. His company used to primarily manufacture products for people suffering from sleep apnea, but pivoted to making N95 masks for the pandemic. The company went from 23 to 70 employees and is looking to rent an offsite warehouse as well, but the Nottingham warehouse has far more capacity than his company would need, and a better use would be to lease it a major distributor like Amazon, Walmart or UPS, Moulton said.
Moulton asked the town if it could begin marketing it to prospective tenants even before the deal closed, and the town granted the request.
Moulton said he wasn’t aware of the USA Springs controversy until he was made aware of the property, though he did know one of the engineers from the state that worked on the permitting process.
For its part, the town is happy that the property will go back on the tax rolls.
“We will finally put this saga behind us, give it a good ending for the town and the new owner,” said Town Administrator Chris Sterndale.