South End property proposals back in committeeBy PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader
February 19. 2018 10:56PM
MANCHESTER — Two responses generated by a request for proposals for the former site of Genest’s Bakery will be back before an aldermanic committee at City Hall this afternoon, following a vote by city aldermen earlier this month.
Aldermen voted to send a proposal the city received from Tokena Corporation back to the Aldermanic Committee on Lands and Buildings for additional review, after a second suitor for the property expressed concerns over how its response to the request for proposals was interpreted.
The committee will meet today at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.
In January, members of the Lands and Buildings committee held a nonpublic session to review responses to the city’s request for proposals to redevelop 630 Harvard St., site of the former Genest’s Bakery, then came back into open session to recommend a proposal for the site submitted by Tokena Corporation, headed up by former state Sen. Tom DeBlois.
The city took title to the building — considered for years a neighborhood blight by South End residents — in May as compensation for years of unpaid taxes totaling nearly $804,000.
The building was constructed in 1933 and has — at various times — housed a book bindery, a metal shop, a metal sculptor and a taxidermy shop.
Ahead of a scheduled vote earlier this month by the full board on Tokena’s proposal, Atty. John Cronin — representing Custom Architectural Design Management, LLC, a five-member multi-company development team and the second group to submit a proposal for the property — addressed the aldermen, saying his client was surprised to learn the Tokena proposal contained a purchase price lower than what CADM offered.
According to documents provided to city aldermen, Tokena’s proposal came in at $225,000 for the property as is, while the CADM proposal came in at $275,000 — but carried a list of concerns the proposed buyers had with the site, including a list of requested improvements they would like to see performed by the city.
CADM’s list of requests include having the city remove all debris and items from the property, the city remove all graffiti from the building exterior, having Manchester police patrol the site in the evening during construction, and a tax assessment freeze for five years through the New Hampshire Community Revitalization Tax Relief Incentive.
Estimates from the tax collector’s office claim the CADM bid would cost the city $300,000 more than the Tokena bid if the requests were granted, and Board of Assessors chairman Robert Gagne said 630 Harvard St. would not be eligible for the tax relief incentives referenced in the proposal.
CADM’s bid proposal projected to return approximately $10,000 a year more in property taxes once all renovations are complete.
CADM proposes using the space property as an industrial arts, fabrication and training facility, while Tokena Corporation proposes using the site as office space.