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March 31. 2014 10:48PM

Nashua pays Radisson nearly $1 million

NASHUA — The city has issued a tax abatement check of nearly $1 million to the Radisson Hotel following a lengthy legal battle over the property’s assessments.

The city recently lost its appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which affirmed a prior decision by Judge Jacalyn Colburn of the Hillsborough County Superior Court mandating that the city issue a tax refund to the landmark Radisson Hotel because of inflated assessments.

The hotel sought three years of tax abatements in a civil suit claiming the city issued excessive and disproportionate assessments to the hotel from 2009-2011.An assessing expert representing the Radisson Hotel, Wesley Reeks, previously testified that the city’s assessment of the property from 2009-2011, averaging between $9.6 million and $12.2 million, should have been closer to an assessed value of $4.9 to $6.7 million, according to court documents.

The court ruled in favor of the hotel owner, AFP 105 Corp., and Southern New Hampshire Hospitality LLC. Colburn agreed that the fair market value of the hotel should have been $6,770,000 in 2009, $4,960,000 in 2010, and $5,810,000 in 2011. The city’s values were nearly double those amounts. She granted the hotel’s request for tax abatements for those three years, which totals about $800,000.Including interest, the city recently issued the hotel $958,753 after losing its appeal.

“The City did not provide expert testimony to refute the amount by which the plaintiff’s expert increased expenses to account for functional obsolescence,” says the newest court order. “… Therefore, we cannot say that the trial court’s decision to accept the expert’s methodology as credible is clearly erroneous or unsupported by the evidence.”

According to the hotel’s property taxes posted on the city’s website, the Radisson paid about $320,000 in taxes in 2009, nearly $330,000 in property taxes in 2010, and about $336,000 in 2011 based on the city’s assessed values of the hotel.

The castle-like Radisson Hotel sits on a 17-acre parcel off exit one in Nashua, and has the largest banquet hall in the city. The 336-room, seven-story hotel was originally built in 1981, but has undergone significant improvements since that time.

“The city’s chief assessor prides himself on getting it right 90 percent of the time,” Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said previously. “No one thought the value of that hotel was less than $5 million. I have heard from people in the community who are surprised by this. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Although the Radisson court case has been resolved, another significant tax abatement case may be making its way to the state’s highest court.

The City of Nashua and the owners of a retail shopping center at 151 Coliseum Ave., which houses Chunky’s Cinema, continue to dispute the value of an 8-acre parcel and 1972 building that was most recently assessed at about $7.7 million.

Nashua Coliseum LLC of Londonderry initially filed for an abatement of taxes in 2012 at the Hillsborough County Superior Court after its property at 151 Coliseum Ave. was assessed at $7,659,200 in 2011 — an increase of nearly $700,000 over the prior year.

The property owners alleged that the increase “was excessive, disproportionate, unjust and not supported by any material change in the property,” according to court documents.

Although the city and Nashua Coliseum were able to reach a settlement for the 2011 tax abatement, they still have been unable to reach a settlement on a subsequent disagreement involving a 2012 tax assessment of $7,675,520, says court records.

khoughton@newstote.com


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