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Claremont seeks private developer for former church

Union Leader Correspondent

April 20. 2017 8:01PM

CLAREMONT — The city is seeking developers with a vision for the former First Universalist Church.

“It’s a beautiful building in a highly visible part of the community, and we look forward to someone using it,” Claremont Planning and Development Director Nancy Merrill said Wednesday.

Situated downtown between the city fire station and library on Broad Street, the former church was built in 1832 in the Late Federal style. The city has owned the building since 1989.

The city had owned it for a period of time before that, but in 1972 granted the First Universalist Church use of the structure.

When the city took the building back in the late 1980s it was used for storage and children’s programs. This use ended, however, because the building isn’t up to code, Merrill said. The city hasn’t been using the building, she said, and it is in need of renovation. The city hasn’t assessed the building’s renovation needs.

“The City Council this year really felt it really needed to go back into private hands so somebody could rehabilitate the building and use it. It’s never good to have a vacant building for a long period of time,” Merrill said.

The city is currently taking bids from qualified buyers and developers for the purchase and renovation of the 8,500-square-foot, two-level building.

Merrill said the city is especially interested in proposed uses that would support the economic development of the city.

The church building is located in the historic district, which would require any exterior renovation of the building — such as doors, windows, signs or façade — to receive approval from the Historic District Commission.

The building is in the city zone in which it is eligible for the city’s Community Revitalization Tax Relief Incentive program.

The church bell and weathervane are not part of the proposal request. Those items will remain property of the city.

Bids are being accepted through May 5.

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