MANCHESTER — The Citizens Bank building on Elm Street sold for $39 million Wednesday — the highest price tag for a downtown property in at least this century.
Carlisle Capital Corporation, headed by Seacoast businessman Bill Binnie, sold the iconic century-old building at 875 Elm St. after spending millions renovating it into apartments.
The buyer was Red Oak Apartment Homes, a Manchester real estate firm with more than 1,500 residential units across the state.
“It’s a strong vote of confidence for the Manchester area,” said Thomas Farrelly, executive director of the New England region for Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate firm not involved in the sale.
Much of the 10-story building is now taken up by 91 apartments. Tenants also include Citizens Bank and the 110 Grill restaurant.
“It has brought quality housing, new restaurants and a much bigger tax base to the city,” Binnie said in a statement.
Red Oak owner Ron Dupont didn’t return phone messages Wednesday.
Since 2000, the highest real estate transaction in Manchester was the $88.5 million spent for two apartment complexes on 41 acres off Front Street last month, according to Robert Gagne, who chairs the city’s board of assessors.
Waterford Place, a 384-unit apartment building on the West Side, sold for $57 million in March 2006 and then resold for $53 million in November 2015.
Another West Side apartment complex, Village Circle Way, sold for $46 million in May 2016.
“It’s another eye popper for us,” Gagne said.
Binnie’s company bought the Elm Street property in 2015 for $8.175 million.
The sale includes the building and parking garage. The city recently approved combining several parcels, including a drive-up banking building as well, into a single property now assessed at more than $10.2 million, Gagne said.
The assessment doesn’t reflect its value today, Gagne said.
The selling price “just tells you what a strong market Manchester is right now,” he said.
Red Oak’s Dupont had expressed interest in buying 900 Elm St., one of the city’s tallest buildings, before it sold for nearly $20 million in September 2014, according to Gagne.
The New Hampshire Union Leader reported in February that there was a potential $40 million price target for 875 Elm.
“We certainly had multiple people bidding on the property, said Bob Rohrer of Colliers International, which handled the sale.
Binnie owns a collection of radio stations and ran for U.S. Senate in 2010. In 2017, Binnie Media also sold off its television broadcasting rights for WBIN-TV to the Federal Communications Commission. The company valued the transaction at almost $100 million.
The building’s owner received a five-year tax break under a program adopted by aldermen for community revitalization. It allows the owner to not pay any property taxes on the value of improvements made.