LACONIA — A Texas businessman who grew up in the Lakes Region is betting the City on the Lakes is poised for a development boom and has put his money where his mouth is.
Scott Everett, founder of Dallas-based Supreme Mortgage Lending, either individually or through limited liability companies he controls, has invested more than $6.9 million, buying some two dozen local properties, most recently in the Lakeport area of the city.
“There are a lot of good things going on here,” said Everett. He views Laconia as having three distinct areas, Weirs Beach, Lakeport and downtown, and said each is enjoying a resurgence.
The Weirs saw the completion of a $4.3 million streetscape improvement project in 2017. Last month, the City Council voted unanimously to authorize $6.7 million in borrowing to help fund the repair and restoration of the 104-year-old Colonial Theater that will blend a 750-seat civic auditorium with upscale apartments and three storefronts.
In 2005, the Opechee Inn in the heart of Lakeport transformed a 12.5-acre former industrial complex on the shores of Lake Opechee into a 34-room boutique hotel, restaurant and spa. More recently, the former Lakeport Fire Station has been incorporated into the newly constructed home of Lakeport Landing Marina.
In June, Antaeus Holdings LLC, which Everett controls, purchased the former Lakeport Opera House at 781 Union Ave. for $150,000. Its construction started almost immediately after its predecessor, the Weeks Block, was destroyed by fire in 1881, and premiered its first show in 1882.
“I would love to see that theater reopen,” said Everett as he led a tour of the building whose upper floors were originally used by the Darius Drake Post of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Astride a busy intersection with limited on-street and off-street parking, the location has hampered commercial enterprises. Since acquiring the property, Everett said, he has found support from the city in working to develop a solution to the parking woes.
“The whole area is really starting to take shape and it needs some parking to help it really take off,” said Everett.
City Manager Scott Myers confirmed there have been preliminary talks about creating additional parking for the Lakeport area by using a portion of Sanborn Park, while retaining the basketball court and the playground.
Antaeus Holdings also purchased a two-family home on a 1-acre lot at 27 Clinton St., directly behind the theater that could be razed to make way for added parking.
“My goal will be to preserve as much as I can while putting in a sprinkler system and bringing it into this century,” Everett said of future plans for the Opera House, which are still being discussed.
The Laconia Daily Sun will be the anchor tenant in the ground floor of the building, and Everett said the third floor with 20-foot ceilings, maple hardwood floors and multiple 18-foot tall windows would make for unique living space with views of Opechee and Winnipesaukee. He would also like to see a coffee shop as a ground floor tenant that would help attract people to the neighborhood.
Standing in front of the building, Everett gestures toward neighboring Fratello’s, which has become a staple in Lakeport after the brick building was re-purposed from a bank into a unique eatery.
“It’s like a snowball going downhill,” he said of the momentum that redevelopment helps spark.
In addition to the Opera House, Everett has also acquired 49-63 Elm St., two mixed-use buildings and an apartment house located between Lakeport Landing Marina and the bridge for $996,000.
He purchased 41 Elm St., another mixed-use building that formerly housed a market on the ground floor, for $250,000 in December 2018.