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Claremont Plans to Sell Sawtooth Building

Lance Curavoo of Keene, N.H., wipes away sweat from the midday heat while closing up the work site with fellow Melanson Roofing workers on top of the Sawtooth Building in Claremont on August 23, 2009. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Lance Curavoo of Keene, N.H., wipes away sweat from the midday heat while closing up the work site with fellow Melanson Roofing workers on top of the Sawtooth Building in Claremont on August 23, 2009. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

Claremont — The City Council unanimously approved a motion Wednesday night authorizing the administration to enter into a purchase and sales and redevelopment agreement with a potential buyer of the remaining portion of the Sawtooth building on the corner of Central and Main streets.

Planning and Development Director Nancy Merrill told the council the preliminary proposal would be to sell the building for a dollar and the buyer, Twin State MakerSpaces, would invest about $350,000 into renovating the 10,000 square foot space.

Twin State MakerSpaces, a nonprofit based in Lebanon, was the only bidder for the former industrial building, which was partially demolished when the attached parking garage was constructed several years ago.

Merrill said Twin State MakerSpaces would convert the interior into areas for uses such as artist studios, educational spaces, technical workshops and metal, wood, electrical and textile shops. Anyone with an idea or a project they want to complete could rent space and all the tools and equipment would be provided.

“We think it is a project that could benefit economic development in Claremont,” Merrill said.

The concept, Merrill explained, allows individuals to use the space for a fixed period of time, usually to create or build something but also to develop entrepreneurial ideas.

“There is the opportunity for secondary job creation and new business startups,” Merrill said after the council presentation.

Company president Steven Goldsmith also operates Upper Valley MakerSpaces of White River Junction, one of two MakerSpaces Goldsmith and his partners want to establish in the area.

The Upper Valley nonprofit’s website describes the concept this way: “It will be a place where you can take your idea and create something. We hope that it will be full of tools that you can use, or bring your own to share. Cool tools like CNC machines, 3d printers, electronic test equipment, screenprinting, metal machining, wood working tools , welding, giant sewing machines.”

The motion approved by the council states that provisions to any agreement would include subdivision of the parcel, installation of a concrete floor and sub-slab venting system, and an agreement on payment in lieu of taxes — a common arrangement with nonprofits.

Merrill said the administration could complete the negotiations and bring a proposed agreement to the council for approval in August.

Once home to the forge shop for Sullivan Machinery Co., the building was abandoned decades ago and had become a symbol of blight and a safety hazard,

City officials had hoped to tear all of it down for the parking garage but the state Historic Preservation office said the building had characteristics that qualified it for the National Register of Historic Places. The building got its name from the slanted, raised roof sections that were constructed to allow for more natural light. The city invested millions into stabilizing the structure, putting in new windows and cleaning up contamination.

Also Wednesday night, Mayor James Neilsen said he, City Manager Guy Santagate and Assistant Mayor Vic Bergeron have interviewed one individual recommended by state Rep. Joe Osgood to investigate the events surrounding the removal of personal property in June by city personnel from a home on Windsor Road that was owned by Roy Hunter before the city took it by tax deed last August. Neilsen said the person is with the New Hampshire Municipal Investigative Association.

“Nothing has been signed or committed to yet,” Neilsen said.

The items taken from the home and secured on city property were returned the next day.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.