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May 27. 2014 10:06PM

Future park and ride lot on hold in Nashua

NASHUA — Plans to convert a city-owned parcel at 25 Crown St. into a commuter park and ride lot are temporarily on hold while city officials await the results of the New Hampshire Capitol Corridor rail and transit study.

“There is no active planning right now for the park and ride,” said Tom Galligani, the city’s economic development director. “We are sort of on hold right now to see what the study reveals.”

Early last year, the Board of Aldermen voted to acquire the downtown property for $1.4 million, which consists of two parcels at the 25 Crown St. location. The intention is to construct a park and ride lot for a maximum of 250 vehicles, with the possibility of a future train station also being housed at the site.

Since the city purchased the plot with a combination of federal funds and state toll credits, property taxes are no longer being generated from land, explained Galligani. To compensate for that loss, Armstrong World Industries/Triangle Pacific Corp. had been leasing one of the two buildings on the site.

Previously, Armstrong discontinued using a large, 50,000 square feet warehouse at the rear of the property, but still utilizes a smaller office and showroom building at the front of the parcel.

On Tuesday, the Board of Aldermen was presented with a proposed resolution to enter into a new lease agreement with AC Products, Inc., for the same property. According to Galligani, the cabinet division of Armstrong was recently acquired by AC Products, Inc.

The proposed lease is a one-year agreement for a cost of $19,200, or $1,600 per month in rent.

“Now that we don’t own the property, we don’t collect the tax revenue,” said Galligani. “We hoped to get at least as much from the lease to fill that (tax) void.”

Eventually, Galligani said the city will begin negotiating with AC Products for a longer term lease, but stressed the agreement that is up for consideration by aldermen is for only 12 months.

Meanwhile, there has been some interest in the larger warehouse facility that was previously used by Armstrong, but that building’s future is still uncertain.

“We have had some inquiries, but nothing has materialized,” said Galligani, noting a potential renter recently visited the site.

There are some different possibilities with the warehouse building, according to Galligani, who said city officials could decide to keep the structure standing and lease the facility, build around the structure or raze the building entirely.

“Chances are the warehouse will eventually go, but there are several options to consider,” he added.

Until the passenger rail study is completed, Galligani said those major decisions will remain on hold.

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said earlier that the Crown Street location is ideal for a future train station, because it is the only downtown area where there is 800 feet of straight train track that already exists. Still, it could take more than five years for a train station to be operating from the site, as the city will have to overcome several obstacles, the mayor said previously.

When city officials approved the land acquisition last year, two aldermen opposed the purchase.

Alderman Paul Chasse said he had serious reservations about the city becoming a landlord, while Alderman Dan Moriarty said he would rather see a train station near Exit 2 in south Nashua.

khoughton@newstote.com


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