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Bridge Street project developers in Nashua to seek alternative financing

Union Leader Correspondent

August 14. 2014 10:12PM

NASHUA — With an Aug. 29 deadline approaching, city officials this week authorized Renaissance Downtowns to streamline its appraisal process and seek additional financing for its waterfront development project on Bridge Street.

“This is a neighborhood that needs help,” said Alderman-at-Large James Donchess, saying additional housing on Bridge Street will introduce new vibrancy and energy to the east side of Nashua.

The Nashua City Planning Board approved the mixed-use development on a 10-acre site surrounding the Merrimack and Nashua rivers more than a year ago. Although full financing for the project has not been secured and a building permit has yet to be issued, the planning board reapproved the project earlier this month. Plans include four residential buildings that will offer 218 apartment units.

Ryan Porter, project manager with Renaissance Downtowns, said recently that the organization will apply for low-income housing tax credits from the N.H. Housing Finance Authority to partially finance the project.

The application must be submitted by Aug. 29, which is just two weeks away. Because a former resolution approved by the Board of Aldermen requires a three-step appraisal process, aldermen were asked this week to amend the resolution to streamline the appraisal procedure, which would then enable Renaissance Downtowns to apply for the tax credits by the end of the month.

“Nothing has changed,” said Alderman Ken Siegel, Ward 9. The amendment will simply allow an alternative financing mechanism for Renaissance Downtowns, according to Siegel.

Aldermen approved the appraisal change on Tuesday.

Donchess said that the development project is struggling to receive conventional financing because it is a difficult site within a difficult neighborhood.

The new housing — once completed — will yield about $350,000 in taxes each year to the city, according to Donchess.

“We do need nice, quality apartments,” said Alderman-at-Large Diane Sheehan. “There is clearly a market for this.”

That application for low-income housing tax credits will be submitted by the end of the month; however, there is a lot of competition for the tax credits, Porter said recently.

“We will see where we land, but we should know by the end of the year,” he said of the tax credit financing.

The city has owned the Bridge Street property since the 1940s. Previously, city officials entered into negotiations with Renaissance Downtowns to sell the property for redevelopment.

Once financing is secured and all the construction phases are complete, the Bridge Street development will include not only housing, but also a community center, restaurant with a balcony overlooking the water, courtyards, park, community pool, boulevard and public promenade. It is expected to serve as a new eastern gateway into the city.

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