Concord has new offer to demolish downtown Employment Security building and add 64 new apartments

  • The former Department of Employment Security building on South Main Street has been empty for years. Monitor file

  • Possible appearance of the apartment building proposed to replace the Employment Security building at 32-34 S. Main St. The Flatley Co.—Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 4/30/2021 2:15:08 PM

The empty Employment Security building on South Main Street would be torn down and replaced by a six-story apartment building under a proposal that gets a public hearing next month.

The city has signed a purchase-and-sale agreement with the Flatley Co., one of the state’s biggest developers of commercial real estate. Under the plan Concord would sell the building for $350,000, slightly more than the assessed value of the land on the 3/4-acre parcel. Flately proposes to replace it with “approximately 64 market-rate apartment” with 54 on-site parking spaces, to be completed by the summer of 2023.

The new building would be roughly 80,000 square feet, about three times the size of the current building. Adjoining buildings on the block, including the Eagle Hall, would not be affected except for replacing some utility lines.

Initial drawings for the new apartments do not show it keeping the distinctive, if not always popular, multicolored panels on the present building.

The proposal will be the subject of a public hearing at the City Council’s next meeting on May 10.

The building at 32-34 S. Main St. has been empty since the state Department of Employment Security moved to the campus of the former New Hampshire Hospital in 2014. Concord bought the building for $1.575 million and ever since has been trying to get it turned into housing, preferably with some ground-level businesses.

They came closest in 2019 when developers proposed replacing it and adjoining buildings with 125 apartments plus a parking garage and a restaurant, but the City Council balked at a request for $3.5 million in financing through the city’s Sears Block tax district, which includes this site.

Matt Walsh, director of redevelopment and downtown services for Concord, noted that the sale price is less than is typical for land used for an apartment building – “normally about $15,000 per unit,” which would be around $960,000 for 64 units. He said Flatley Co.’s agreement to move some utilities and demolish the existing building means “we feel it’s fair market value.”

One disappointment with the Flatley plan is that it is not mixed use. Facilities would be available only to tenants, Walsh said.

Under the purchase-and-sale agreement, the city would spend up to $372,000 to remove asbestos from the building before it is torn down. Of that, $172,500 would come from a state Department of Environmental Services “brownfields cleanup” grant, with the rest from the city’s economic development reserve.

As part of the Sears Block Tax Increment Financing district, which was created in 2003 to spur development around what is now Hotel Concord, property taxes paid by increased value of the new structure would go into a fund to pay off costs related to improvements in the district. 

Walsh estimated the apartment building would generate $215,000 to $275,000 taxes annually once it opens, and said it’s likely that the TIF district will start paying directly into the general fund after the debt for the Storrs Street Parking Garage is paid off in 2026.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)
David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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