Penacook Community Center looks to sell former site of future home

  • Concord Monitor—

Monitor staff
Published: 4/2/2019 5:00:52 PM

The Penacook Community Center is planning to sell its prospective new home.

The nonprofit has entered into a purchase and sales agreement with Concord Area Trust for Community Housing for parcels of land at 95 and 97 Village St., according to city zoning board documents. CATCH, a nonprofit that develops and manages housing units, is looking to use the space to develop multifamily housing.

The sale marks the latest development in the nonprofit’s years-long struggle to expand beyond its 76 Community Drive location. The center provides a variety of programming, including childcare.

Village Street has been the proposed site for the Center’s new home since 2015, when the ZBA granted the nonprofit several variances, including the ability to develop a 39,500-square-foot community center on a 4-acre lot in a residential medium density district. In 2017, the nonprofit asked for a year-long extension on their variances.

Then, the community center’s lawyer said it might take three years for the community center to pull its project together. Those variances would have expired on May 13, 2018.

The Center’s board of director’s president Jennifer Brechtel said in an email that the center will remain on Community Drive for now.

“While a decision has been made to remain on the Community Drive campus at this time, the future of the Penacook Community Center does not change,” she wrote. “The organization’s long history of providing affordable, high quality programs will continue.”

The Center has been searching for a new home for years. In 2014, a proposal to buy the former site of the Washington Street School from Merrimack Valley School District fell through.

Around that time, the center’s popularity was reported to have grown exponentially, with program participation growing from 3,200 people in 2005 to 10,000 people today, serving residents in Concord, Boscawen, Loudon, Webster, Salisbury and Canterbury, according to Monitor archives.

In 2015, the center purchased the 95-97 Village St. lots. But two years later, three factors snagged the project’s delay, Jacques – then president of the board of directors – said in at a May 2017 ZBA meeting.

The organization’s former executive director, Deb Cuddahy, had stepped down, requiring an intensive search for her replacement the Merrimack Valley School District began offering full-day kindergarten, which meant the community center “lost a quarter of our business”; and cost estimates for the project were at least $7 million, requiring a larger-than-expected fundraising effort, according to Monitor archives.

According to ZBA documents, CATCH needs a frontage variance for its housing units. Their request will be heard by the ZBA board Wednesday night.

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