Specific State School redevelopment plans could emerge by end of summer

Formal call for plans is next step in state’s effort to sell property
Charlie Arlinghaus

‘It’s a weird and complicated piece of real estate,’ says Administrative Services Commissioner Charlie Arlinghaus about the former Laconia State School property.

Concrete proposals for the purchase and redevelopment of the former Laconia State School complex could emerge by the end of the summer, according to the head of the state department that is overseeing the sales and marketing effort of the 225-acre complex.

The state expects to issue a formal announcement calling for those who have expressed an interest in developing the property for explicit plans on how they would develop it, Charlie Arlinghaus, commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services told the Executive Council June 16.

Developers would have 60 days to submit their proposals once the call for offers is issued, Arlinghaus said, but he gave no indication when the announcement would be made.

He said the volume of online traffic to the listing of the property has been going up since it first appeared earlier this year, “but it’s starting to level off.”

Arlinghaus said issuing a call for offers is meant to tell developers to “fish or cut bait” and present serious offers spelling out their vision for developing the property.

He said he could not predict how many concrete offers the state would get, but thought that three was a realistic number.

The Executive Council last October awarded a two-year contract to CBRE, an international commercial real estate firm, to market the complex, which once was the state facility for developmentally disabled individuals, phased out in 1991. A small portion of the overall campus was then converted into a state prison, which was closed in 2009. Most of the buildings have been unused for between 15 and 30 years and have since received only minimal maintenance. Many buildings have mold and asbestos issues, and the water and sewer system on the site is old and in questionable condition.

“It’s a weird and complicated piece of real estate,” Arlinghaus told the councilors, “with a lot of weird and complicated things on it.”

Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, who has been asking Arlinghaus for periodic updates on the effort to sell the property, said that he believes a suitable developer will need to have substantial financial resources, as well as a good vision of how to reuse the property, and a proven record for taking on and successfully completing multi-year projects.

“This is moving,” Gov. Chris Sununu said at one point during Arlinghaus’ remarks. When asked if detailed proposals would be received “this summer,” Arlinghaus said yes.

“I know the governor has a sense of urgency” on selling the property, Kenney said in a telephone interview. “But we have to know there are qualified bidders.”

This article is being shared by partners in the Granite State News Collaborative. For more information, visit collaborativenh.org.

Categories: Government, News, Real Estate & Construction