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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Committee wants appraisals for Nashua downtown parking lot

NASHUA – A committee of aldermen is recommending the city get professional appraisals of a downtown parking lot before signing a new lease-and-sale agreement for the property.

The Committee on Infrastructure voted Tuesday to solicit a pair of appraisals to determine the market value of the parking lot, which is located near the corner of Main and Hollis streets. ...

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NASHUA – A committee of aldermen is recommending the city get professional appraisals of a downtown parking lot before signing a new lease-and-sale agreement for the property.

The Committee on Infrastructure voted Tuesday to solicit a pair of appraisals to determine the market value of the parking lot, which is located near the corner of Main and Hollis streets.

Aldermen are weighing whether to execute a deal with Southern New Hampshire Medical Center that would allow the hospital to continue leasing the property for 15 years. The agreement also allows the hospital to buy the parking lot at any time for $720,000, provided it agrees to build a new parking garage and office building.

The deal has the backing of the mayor and several board members, but others have expressed concerns about whether the city is getting a fair price for the 0.7-acre parking lot.

Evaluating that question has been complicated because the deal also involves a third player – the CVS pharmacy next to the hospital. CVS is planning to build a bigger store with a drive-thru window on Main Street, but it needs to rent parking spaces in order for the project to get off the ground.

The deal would allow CVS to sublease parking from the hospital. But some real estate experts are cautioning that the city should be placing a higher value on the parking lot if it’s going to be leased to a lucrative tenant, such as a drug store.

“We need someone knowledgeable in this area to tell us something about what these interests are worth – what the city should be getting,” Alderman-at-Large Jim Donchess said.

The committee voted 3-2 in favor of an amendment proposed by Ward 9 Alderman Dan Moriarty, which calls for the Board of Aldermen and the mayor’s office to solicit appraisals from a licensed expert in commercial real estate. The amendment allows the aldermen to set the rental price for the property only after the appraisals are received.

“There’s enough uncertainty; I cannot in good conscience vote ‘yes’ for this the way it is,” Moriarty said, “and we are not in the position to, lacking more information, come up with a conclusive value on this.”

Ward 3 Alderman Diane Sheehan and Ward 2 Alderman Richard Dowd opposed the amendment, while Moriarty, Donchess and Committee Chairman Mark Cookson supported it.

The committee later recommended passage of the lease-and-sale proposal as amended. The issue will be taken up again at a meeting of the full Board of Aldermen on Tuesday .

Jim Haddadin can be reached at 594-6589 or jhaddadin@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Haddadin on Twitter (@Telegraph_JimH).