Bank Building Up for Auction

  • National Bank of Lebanon near the Lebanon Mall in late 1975. Citizens Bank is in the location in 2018. (Valley News photograph) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/1/2018 12:05:31 AM
Modified: 6/1/2018 3:32:55 PM

Lebanon — A historic office building in downtown Lebanon will be on the auction block next month after a Pennsylvania-based bank recently foreclosed on the property.

Auctioneers are expecting many bids for the National Bank Building on July 10.

The four-story structure, sometimes called the “Citizens Bank Building,” sits near the Lebanon Mall on West Park Street.

“I’ve had a wonderful turnout in calls and emails for interest in this property,” said Doug Martin, a Hampstead, N.H., auctioneer, on Wednesday.

Firstrust Bank foreclosed on property owner 20 West Park LLC in April, according to a notice of sale on Martin’s website. The notice cites an outstanding $1.3 million mortgage as cause for the auction.

20 West Park LLC is one of several holding companies managed by Richard Balagur, who also owns the adjoining Whipple Block — home to downtown’s Salt hill Pub — and owns several units at the Renihan Meadows condominium complex off of Mascoma Street, where he serves on the board of directors.

Balagur also owns two multi-family homes in Lebanon together valued at $580,000, according to city records.

Other than the National Bank Building, none of Balagur’s other properties appear to be up for auction. Messages left on his cell phone on Wednesday were not returned.

After this story was published, Balagur said by email Friday that the auction, originally slated for Tuesday, June 5, had been delayed so the bank could “resolve a major ambiguity in the mortgage. Firstrust is actually foreclosing on a partner's interest in the building, not due to any problems with the building or its finances. That partner pledged his membership interest for a loan and has defaulted on that loan. All of our other loans are in good standing.”

At least some of the building’s tenants said they were surprised to hear of the foreclosure when contacted on Wednesday. Jackie Runner, who owns Artistic Touch Massage, and officials at the Special Needs Support Center said they weren’t alerted to the auction by building management.

The support center moved into the bank building last summer, after its former home on Flynn Street was demolished to make room for parking at Rogers House.

The National Bank Building has long been a part of downtown Lebanon.

It was built in 1893 by the former Lebanon Savings Bank, according to historian Roger Carroll in his book Lebanon, 1761-1994: The Evolution of a Resilient New Hampshire City.

It was later owned and used as a branch for the National Bank of Lebanon, which became the First New Hampshire Bank of Lebanon when the local business was sold in 1985. Citizens Financial Group came to own the building in 1996, when it acquired Bank of Ireland First Holdings Inc., the branch’s parent company.

In its more than 100-year history, the building has also housed several businesses. A men’s store, shoe store, clothing stop, jeweler and Bridgman’s furniture all set up shop there, Carroll wrote.

The building was sold to Balagur’s RFR Associates LLC, which later became known as 20 West Park LLC, for $1.25 million in 1998, according to city records.

It’s now assessed at $1.8 million. The auction will begin at 11 a.m. on July 10 on the building’s grounds. Martin said he’ll likely set up on the lawn just south of the building.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.

Correction

An auction for the National Bank Building in downtown Lebanon has been postponed until Tuesday, July 10. Richard Balagur, the building's co-owner, also owns several units at the Renihan Meadows condominium complex and serves on its board of directors. An earlier version of this story reported an incorrect date for the auction and misstated Balagur's role at Renihan Meadows. This story has also been updated to include new information from Balagur, who could not be reached for comment before it was published in print.




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