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Manchester Downtown Development with HUD Assistance

[Photo: Corner of Chase Block shot from the street.]
The first structure to be rehabilitated was the Chase Block.

The City of Manchester is in the midst of a significant downtown revitalization effort, aided in part by financial assistance from HUD Community Planning and Development programs. The effort involves the substantial rehabilitation of three turn-of-the-20th-Century commercial buildings that had been vacant and deteriorating for over a decade at the heart of the City's Central Business District and its Enterprise Community Area. The City has had much success with the program, and has recently applied for the maximum balance available of its Section 108 funds to continue to finance the downtown revitalization efforts.

The first structure to receive treatment was the largest, because it actually consisted of two adjoining buildings, sharing a common central core and encompassing approximately 46,000 square feet. The Chase Block acquired by the City in 1992 for non-payment of taxes after being damaged by fire the previous year. Several efforts at redevelopment had failed before the City decided to use a combination of Federal and local funds to assist a private developer in returning the property to productive use. The Economic Development Administration provided a $1 million grant and the public Manchester Development Corporation loaned $200,000 interest free. HUD funds included $250,000 in CDBG money for site improvements and an interest free CDBG loan of $1 million. Perhaps most significant to the success of the project was the first major use of HUD's Section 108 loan guarantee program in the State of New Hampshire, resulting in a $1.55 million loan to the developer. The revitalized property was opened in January 2001 of Margarita's, a major regional Mexican restaurant, which occupies the entire 8,500 square feet of the first floor and has become an important destination for area diners. The upper stories have been gradually filling with office tenants, including the northern New England Partnership Office of Fannie Mae, and are now close to half occupied. When fully tenanted the project will pay $60,000 annually in local property taxes and bring 125 to 135 new jobs to downtown.

Meanwhile, work has begun on two other nearby buildings. First was the Bond Building, a 25,000 square foot, five-story structure just across a side street from the Chase Block. In this case, the City is providing an interest-free $150,000 loan from its housing and redevelopment authority, and Bank of New Hampshire is lending $100,000 at market rate. Major funding is coming from an interest free CDBG loan of $288,000 and $1.552 million in Section 108 funds. The first two floors will be devoted to commercial uses, and the top three will provide space for nine two-bedroom apartments - an important part of the City's effort to return market-rate housing to the downtown. Upon completion, the project will result in the creation of 55 new full-time permanent jobs.

A block away, work has now begun on the five-story, 22,068 square foot, Dunlap Building. In this case, the Manchester Development Corporation is providing a loan of $450,000 market-rate loan, and the Section 108 Program is contributing a loan of $1.35 million. Commercial tenants have already committed to the ground floor space, and the upper floors will be used for offices. In the end, the project will create 60 new permanent full-time jobs.

Taken together, these three buildings will have a major impact on downtown Manchester's continuing revitalization.

Content Archived: March 21, 2011

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