CLAREMONT — City councilors unanimously agreed Wednesday to allow city staff to negotiate a $1 sale of the historic Sawtooth Building on Main Street to a Lebanon-based nonprofit that plans to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into the former industrial building.
Twin State MakerSpaces was the only bidder coming in at $18.42, Claremont Planning and Development Director Nancy Merrill said Monday.
The nonprofit plans to renovate the 10,000-square foot building into a makerspace, which is a community-operated workspace where artists, hobbyists and entrepreneurs can come together to create, socialize and collaborate in a shared space with shared equipment.
Anyone could rent space at the makerspace, which would afford access to tools from 3D printers to metal machining, wood working or welding tools to screen-printing equipment and giant sewing machines. Projects and ideas brought to makerspaces include computing, robotics, technology, science, art, jewelry and textiles.
“We think it would be a great project in Claremont,” Merrill said. “What they’re proposing is really interesting, will create jobs, is a job creator.”
The original building was used as a forge shop known as the Sullivan Machinery Company and was constructed in 1902, with additions in 1907 and 1911.
The old forge shop was abandoned decades ago and has been city-owned for quite some time. It was part of the blight in the old mill section of downtown, which the city has worked to revitalize.
City officials had planned at one point to tear the building down to create a parking garage, but the state Historic Preservation office said the building had characteristics that qualified it for the National Register of Historic Places.
Over the years, the city has invested millions into the building, including an environmental cleanup. The city also restored the front exterior of the building to support the revitalization of the old mill area. The city has also repaired the roof, which was caving in, and made structural repairs.
“The building is structurally sound,” Merrill said.
However the new owners would have to spend another $250,000 to $350,000 in interior renovations, she said.
The building is called the Sawtooth building because of the slanted windows on the roof.
“It’s an interesting building. The sawtooth windows on it gives it great natural light,” Merrill said.
Merrill said city officials plan to return to City Council Aug. 13 for approval of the negotiated deal.
“We would like there to be a use in there that supports economic development or supports jobs,” Merrill said.