Sale in works for long-empty Employment Security building on S. Main St.

  • A preliminary rendering shows the building that would replace the Department of Employment Security building on South Main Street if a sale goes through. Courtesy of Dol-Soul Development

  • The former Department of Employment Security building on South Main Street has been empty for three years. The city would remove the building, including its distinctive blue and yellow panels, as part of a purchase and sale agreement with Dol-Soul Properties. Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Thursday, September 28, 2017

The ugliest building on Main Street is set to be sold, with the prospective owner turning it into a seven-story development featuring 109 apartments plus street-level retail and offices.

The city council must do a few things before a group of developers can replace the former New Hampshire Employment Security building. That includes rezoning the block to allow taller buildings, changing the way Concord doles out parking spaces to downtown developments, and paying to tear down the building, which has been empty since the state moved out three years ago.

The city council will hold a public hearing on the proposal at its Oct. 10 meeting.

Under the purchase and sale agreement with an out-of-state group called Dol-Soul Properties, Concord would sell the building and about half an acre, including the Fayette Street parking lot, for $1.075 million. The city bought the building and lot for $1.575 million in 2012 and has spent several hundred thousand dollars to weatherproof it. The city also paid about $2 million to bury the power lines in front of the site during the Main Street project.

Under the proposal, Concord would have to pay about $300,000 to remove the building – including the blue and yellow panels that give it a distinctive, if dated, appearance – and would receive $150,000 in impact fees. That’s a discount of about $25,000 from the impact fee schedule, depending on tweaks being considered separately by the council, according to Matthew Walsh, the city’s director of redevelopment.

Dol-Soul Properties proposes putting up a seven-story building, with 5,000 square feet of commercial space along South Main Street and 109 apartments on the floors above that, in sizes ranging from studios to two-bedrooms.

Between 50 and 100 parking spaces would be included, possibly including some underground parking. That’s less than what’s required for 109 apartments under city guidelines, so the proposal calls for the city to create a permit system and provide up to 82 permits to tenants to use in a number of city parking lots and spaces. The construction would also remove the 75 public spaces in the current Fayette Street lot.

A staff report estimates the building would have an assessed value of $12.5 million.

“This project eclipses the size and assessed value of any single private building constructed on South Main Street since the city launched redevelopment efforts over a decade ago,” says a staff report on the proposed sale.

The plan calls for rezoning the entire 1 ¼-acre block between South Main and South State streets, bordered by Thompson and Fayette streets, to what is known as Central Business Performance. This would allow buildings 80 feet tall instead of the current 45-foot limit, and would remove requirements for building setback and for on-site parking.

The rezoning would cover three other buildings within the block – Eagle Hall, the Equality Health Center and a private home that is divided into rental units. It would not affect them immediately but would give them the option to expand into current parking areas, and it would likely affect their future sale value.

Most of this portion of South Main Street is zoned for Central Business Performance.

Dol-Soul Properties is a group consisting of three entities: a real estate firm called Dolben Company Inc. based in Woburn, Mass.; Vermont developer Ari Souliotis, who owns a number of Dunkin’ Donuts locations in that state; and Tim Vanech, founding partner of a Norwood, Mass., investment firm called Shorepoint Capital Partners.

The Dolben Company Inc. owns two developments in Concord: Pembroke Place on Manchester Street and Penacook Place on Fisherville Road.

The development is within the multiblock area known as the Sears Block Tax Increment Finance District, a legal system that allows cities to use property tax payments to pay for debt on loans to developers, which is designed to spur construction. The city council must approve the use of money within this district for the sale to go through.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)