Bond passage right next step

Great American Downtown is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing vibrancy, and improving the quality of life in Nashua. Our mission is to provide coordination, collaboration and partnerships that unify the entire Nashua community around a common vision for an attractive downtown that is vibrant, viable and truly reflects the character of our city. Our organization partners each year with hundreds of volunteers and small donors, over 100 area companies, and the City of Nashua to make our work of vibrancy possible.

Over the past several years, one of our most essential partners in vibrancy, the City of Nashua, has been conducting exploratory and planning exercises to determine the feasibility of, and build a vision for, a modern performing arts center. Over the course of that time, the City Economic Development Department and consultants with expertise in architecture, market analysis, performance venues, community outreach and other areas have been hard at work.

The City has brought together community leaders, arts and performance organizations, private performance-oriented businesses, elected officials, and the broader community to the conversation. After review of the regional market demand, and several possible sites, the City and its consultants have produced a report and plan that indicates that the 201 Main St. building (formerly Alec’s Shoes) would be the best site, and that an audience size of 500-700 is the right fit for the region. Since that time, the Board of Aldermen has authorized a $36,000 payment for an “option” on the building, which secures the building for purchase for up to six months.

At this time, the City is working through the process of approval for a bond measure.

The total amount of the bond is $15 million, to support both the purchase the building, and the construction and fit up for this modern venue. In addition, project organizers will also have to raise $4 million from private donations to make the project possible and most importantly – truly feasible. These private funds will ensure an endowment that will produce substantial revenue, and offset the cost of ongoing operations of the project.

Great American Downtown does not typically take a position on matters that aren’t directly related to our operations. We’ve advocated for the passage of measures relative to music festivals, our farmers market, and community gardens in recent years. We take our advocacy in the community seriously. Our bylaws require a vote of the board before the organization will take a stance on a matter.

After looking at all the data, and great consideration, we believe that not only is this support from our elected officials and private donors possible, but it would be a wise investment for Nashua as a community. We believe that the vast majority of Nashua supports this concept, too. Our recent poll, taken by 225 Nashuans, reflected more than 68 percent in favor of passing this bond measure.

This project would not only be a cultural driver, but also an economic driver – increasing interest from visitors and long-term investment from the private sector.

Downtowns throughout the state have seen these positive impacts from investment in facilities like the Capital Center for the Arts in Concord, the SNHU Center & Palace Theater in Manchester, 3S Artspace, and the The Music Hall in Portsmouth. This story of success is one that has played out throughout the country.

Last week at a meeting of the Great American Downtown Board of Directors a vote was made, and the result was unanimous. As we head toward a very important next step in the weeks ahead, our organization supports the passage of a bond measure that will make a modern Performing Arts Center here in our community possible.