More news about Downtown Manchester. Landfill to the Rescue?
Proposed Downtown Initiative
I love to go downtown to shop. It’s close to my house, easy to park and there are some interesting stores and restaurants. Manchester Hardware and Beller’s Music are great examples of warm, friendly, comfortable places to shop.
I went to the Economic Development Commission Meeting last week and learned a few new things about downtown. There are 200 businesses downtown and more square footage available than Buckland Hills Mall. Who would have guessed?
However, Downtown Manchester is underutilized because the buildings are old and deteriorating. The cost of bringing the upper floors of most buildings to code is prohibitive. An owner who pays for work to be completed would most likely never see a return on the investment. The private market will not enable the landlord to collect enough rent money in the newly refurbished apartments and offices to repay the amount due on loans. So, the upper floors continue to deteriorate.
There is good news yet. Because of a positive variance in the sanitation budget this year a proposal has been made to use the money ($750,000) to help out the landlords. The proposal would make available no interest loans of up to $250,000 over the next two years.
The Economic Development Commission would be assigned the job of reviewing the applications and approving those that meet the standards. Approved applications would then be submitted to the Board of Directors for release of funds. Loans would need to be re-paid in 10 years but after 5 years the loan could become a grant. To be eligible for grant status the loan payments have to be made on time during the first 5 years and the building must be occupied. There is a cap of $75,000 on the amount that could become a grant. The payments made on the loans would be returned to the sanitation fund.
The goal would be to use the money for infrastructure improvements to the second and third floors of downtown buildings. The ideas for improvement should be transformative and the aim is to turbo-charge the downtown area.
Check out this website to learn about downtown.
Note: The website needs an update but there is some information about downtown. For example, I’d like to see a list of businesses downtown.
What improvements would you like to see for downtown?