The next stage of the long-awaited redevelopment of the former Job Security Building quietly moved forward this week with a major milestone for the project just a month away.
Following widespread comment on the downtown building’s ugly appearance, the Concord Planning Board approved the John J. Flatley Company’s major site plan for demolition of the current structure and construction of 64 apartments on the 32-34 South Main Street plot.
Plans for the project include a six-story building with a fitness center, ground floor parking, a swimming pool and a pergola. Construction could be completed as early as spring or summer 2023.
The city first purchased the building from the state in 2014 for $1.575 million. Since then, the sales and development process has been bumpy. A previous deal with Dol-Soul Properties fell through and last fall the discovery of additional asbestos outside the building delayed the closing date with Flatley Company, which is now set for May 31.
In all, Concord paid $2.65 million into the property. After fees, subsidies and a final sale price of $350,000 from Flatley, the city’s net investment will be approximately $1.6 million.
Planning board chairman Richard Woodfin said that usually the board would expect more people to show up at a public hearing for a large multi-family development like this.
“This type of project would usually involve a few people, either neighbors or people with a heart to get rid of a beautiful historic building,” he said, prompting laughs.
The DES building is known for its dated facade with a grid of blue and yellow panels interspersed with windows of equal size.
By comparison, a heated aisle dispute between two East Concord neighbors took up a third of Wednesday’s board meeting, leaving a nearly empty room for the Flatley Company’s presentation.
Attorney Ray D’Amante told council he hated the current building on South Main, which has been an eyesore in downtown Concord for as long as he can remember.
“I’m very happy to be part of the team ahead of you tonight,” said D’Amante. “I’ll be even happier when that first bullet hits the side of that building.”
Council granted waivers for a traffic study requirement and a slightly steeper driveway grade.
Annual property taxes for the redeveloped site could yield between $200,000 and $257,000 per year, using the 2021 municipal tax rate. Concord estimated that the assessed value of the site would be between $8 million and $10.24 million. dollars.
These tax dollars will go to the Sears Block Tax Increment Finance District to pay off the debt before they go to the general fund. A tax increase district, or TIF district, is a tool that municipalities like Concord use to encourage economic development in a particular area by paying for infrastructure costs.
Planning Board Vice Chair Carol Foss asked the Flatley team about the lack of playgrounds in the complex’s outdoor spaces.
“I don’t see any accommodations for kids,” Foss said.
Doug Richardson, vice president of acquisitions and planning for the Flatley Company, said that at the other four Flatley properties in New Hampshire, children made up only 4 to 5 percent of occupants.
“The main residents who come to a place like this are usually young professionals and empty nests,” Richardson said.
Foss said even a few children could benefit from a swing.
On Wednesday, the council also approved a multi-colour light display on the roof of the Concord Hotel, where previously only one color could be lit at a time. Currently, the top of the building is lit with blue and yellow lights at night in support of Ukraine, which lead planner Sam Durfee said was a particular exception.
Capital Commons conducted a trial on Dec. 24 with green and red lights. Some of the light scheme ideas included red, white and blue lights for July 4 and rainbow colors for Pride month.