Budget review to look at $28.5M bond

Financing for arts center, Burke Street project on tap

NASHUA – The proposal to bond out $28.5 million to pay for a downtown performing arts center and the first phase of the Burke Street project is getting a hearing on Tuesday.

The city’s Budget Review Committee is scheduled to take up the proposed bond at its Aug. 28 meeting at 7 p.m. in the Aldermanic chambers. So far, the Board of Aldermen already has approved using $36,000 from a city contingency fund to pay for an option on the Main Street building eyed for the performing arts center.

The city will use the $36,000 for a possible yearlong option on the former home to Alec’s Shoes on Main Street. Mayor Jim Donchess had said the option is currently being negotiated on the site. The property is valued at more than $2 million, and Nashua wants to purchase and develop the space into a performing arts center at a total cost of more than $15 million.

Under the performing arts center plan, the 30,000-square-foot space would provide room for a new theater, support facilities, lobby and event space, as well as some retail space. It would serve as a downtown attraction and would be available for meetings and other functions, not just artistic performances.

The $28.5 million proposal will pay for the purchase and redevelopment of the Main Street space estimated at around $15 million, as well as the first phase of the Burke Street redevelopment project, which is more than $13 million.

The Burke Street project, which would move the Department of Public Works operations and vehicle storage, as well as possibly the Nashua School District administrative offices to the one Burke Street location, is expected to cost about $49 million. The city is proposing to split the Burke Street project into phases, with the first part covering the redevelopment of a

two-story office building.

The city currently pays more than $12 million a year in principal payments on multiple bonded projects, and the plan is to add the $28.5 million bond as about $24 million in older bonds are paid off. This will keep the impact on the city tax rate to a minimum, Donchess has said.

Damien Fisher can be reached at 594-1245 or dfisher@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DF.