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December 10. 2012 10:30PM

Cotton Mill Square project in Nashua to seek tax relief

NASHUA - Cotton Mill Square LLC is seeking five years of tax relief under the city's Community Revitalization Tax Relief Incentive Program.

It is Nashua's first application for the program, which was adopted by city officials more than a year ago, according to Thomas Galligani, economic development director.

The Cotton Mill Square project, a $25 million housing plan that was originally proposed in 2006 but stalled because of the economy, is finally getting off the ground.

Now, as the 108-year-old building on Front Street is about to be converted to more than 100 apartment units, the developer is attempting to take advantage of the new tax relief program.

"This is another tool in our tool box," said Galligani. "This (tax relief) incentive program was designed for just this type of project. It makes sense for these larger building projects that will stimulate activity in Nashua."

The Board of Aldermen will be presented with the tax relief application tonight for a preliminary review. The multi-million dollar, mixed-income housing project by developer John Stabile has already received approval from various state and federal agencies.

"The redevelopment of Cotton Mill Square represents a major milestone in the evolution of downtown Nashua. For years, the Front Street area along the north shore of the Nashua River has been viewed as one of the most challenging redevelopment areas in town," the application states. "Prone to flooding, tainted by hazardous waste and spotted with unattractive and dilapidated manufacturing buildings, the city has been unable to inspire any significant redevelopment in the area."

The eight-story building will offer mixed-income housing with 55 affordable apartments and 54 market-rate apartments.

The application claims that Cotton Mill's completion will result in a property tax increase of more than $25,000 per year for the city.

The exact amount of tax relief being sought has not yet been determined, according to Galligani.

"We still need to determine the value of the project once it is complete," he said.

To qualify for tax relief, the project must provide a public benefit, such as enhancing the economic vitality of the downtown, increasing residential housing or improving a culturally or historically important structure.

According to Galligani, Cotton Mill Square LLC's project meets program guidelines.

The application lists numerous benefits, including remediation of hazardous contaminants at the site, improvements to the nearby dam, an extension of Nashua's Riverwalk system, dramatic landscape improvements and more.

The Board of Aldermen must review the paperwork and schedule a public hearing within 60 days, Galligani said.

Once the public hearing is held, a decision on the application should be made within 45 days.

khoughton@newstote.com


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