UNH-Manchester poised to expand downtown campus
MANCHESTER — The Board of Mayor and Aldermen have officially dropped the city’s claim to a prominent mill building, paving the way for a deal that will allow the University of New Hampshire at Manchester to expand and consolidate its downtown campus. The board voted Tuesday to waive its right of first refusal for 400 Commercial St., allowing the DEKA Research and Development Corp. to buy the building from UNH, which would in turn lease all six floors of the Pandora building, owned by DEKA founder Dean Kamen and partners.
The Pandora, which is located at the intersection of Commercial and Granite streets and is among the city’s most prominent mill buildings, will allow UNH-Manchester to boost its profile, increase its classroom and facility space, and expand its science and engineering offerings. Before voting to approve the deal Tuesday, the aldermen made several modifications. UNH’s long-term lease of parking spaces for the 400 Commercial St. property must remain in force, and apply to 192 “yellow zone” spots, rather than specific lots in the Millyard area.
The aldermen also insisted that a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes be paid to the city should UNH, or any other tax-exempt entity, purchase the Pandora building from Kamen and his partners.
UNH hopes to begin work on the Pandora building in the coming weeks, with the goal of completing the renovations by next spring.