Hanover St. building has a buyerMICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader
August 19. 2014 10:46PM
MANCHESTER — New Hampshire Catholic Charities plans to buy the Hanover Street building housing the state unemployment office for $1.4 million, a state official said.
“We’re currently working with them on the details of the transaction and the timing,” said Richard Lavers, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Employment Security.
The unemployment office is searching for a smaller space in the city to relocate, Lavers said.
Lisa Merrill-Burzak, vice president of development for New Hampshire Catholic Charities, said the nonprofit plans to use the Hanover Street location to consolidate programs and rent less space around the city. She said there is no timetable for the move.
“We don’t even have a purchase and sales (agreement),” she said.
The city could lose out on collecting tens of thousands of dollars in property taxes yearly since New Hampshire Catholic Charities has been exempted from paying taxes on four other properties it owns, according to the city assessors office.
The original high bidder, Than Ho, whose family owns the Saigon Asian Market, planned to open a market there, but couldn’t secure the necessary approvals from the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Ho would have paid property taxes.The property’s $1.38 million assessment would net the city nearly $30,000 a year.
But Robert Gagne, who chairs the Board of Assessors, said improvements to or a different use for the property could affect its assessed value.
Gagne said Catholic Charities could escape paying taxes if the property is owned, occupied “and used by and for the charitable purpose claimed.”
Merrill-Burzak said she will let the city determine whether the activities at the new location are tax-exempt.
Lavers said the 300 Hanover St. property contains a building offering 20,360 square feet and 86 surface parking spots.Catholic Charities finished second in the initial round of bidding, offering $1.25 million, behind Ho’s bid of $1,510,100.
The second round brought only one bid, with the higher offer from Catholic Charities. The state was asking $1.5 million.
The state Department of Employment Security, which doesn’t currently pay any property tax to the city, is consolidating several locations around the state, including transferring workers to Concord from 298 Hanover St., where the appeals unit worked.
The state continues to look for a buyer for 298 Hanover St., which contains 9,559 square feet and comes with 20 surface parking spaces across the street in a lot at the corner of Maple and Hanover streets. The state is asking $700,000.