Officials in Durham are hoping to close on the sale of a 1.18-acre parcel of land in the center of downtown by the end of May.
The property at 66 Main St. between People’s United Bank and the Town and Campus Store is owned by the University of New Hampshire and is the last undeveloped lot in the downtown district.
UNH purchased the property from Gamma Theta Corporation in 2014 for $2,100,000. The proposed purchase price is $2,045,000, which is based on two appraisals.
Christine Soutter, Durham’s economic development director, said the land will first be used for much-needed parking.
“I’ve been with the town for going on two years now, and since I’ve been here, we’ve been talking about parking, and I’m sure well before I got here, for many years, parking was a topic of discussion,” Soutter told the town council during its April 19 meeting.
The land can be subdivided, and a portion may be sold for commercial development in the future.
“It gives us control of that last remaining undeveloped lot and we can help steward what it becomes,” Soutter said.
Soutter said purchasing the land would not raise taxes for residents.
There is $675,000 in the tax increment financing fund (TIF) balance, and if town officials finance $742,000 through a TIF bond, that can be repaid from the fund in the future.
Town officials also can use $714,000 in parking impact fees that have been paid by developers. That money needs to be used, or it will be returned to the developers, she said.
“Right now, we’re at a point that if we don’t expend those funds starting by August of this year, that money is going to have to go back,” Soutter said.
Town Councilor Sally Tobias said during the meeting that former councilor Kenny Rotner was supportive of the project before his death last August from cancer.
“He was very much in favor of this, and he saw this as a great opportunity for something that would be good for the town of Durham,” Tobias said.
There will be a public hearing during the town council’s virtual meeting Monday night.
Participants must pre-register to speak at the meeting using the town of Durham’s website.