Published Date Written by Gail OberGILFORD — A top level administrator for the Phoenix House confirmed yesterday that along with testing the waters regarding the purchase of the former Gunstock Inn, his organization is also considering the Arches — a now defunct Northfield assisted living facility.
Neil Gaer, the vice president and director of Clinical Affairs, said yesterday that he and Paul Lavallee — the two men who initially approached the Gilford Planning Board about using the inn as an in-house rehabilitation center — had two of their employees tour the Arches on Thursday.
Phoenix House is a nonprofit company that operates drug addiction and alcohol abuse treatment and rehabilitation centers. The New York based company operates 150 programs in 10 different states.
"It would be fair to say that we are more interested in the Arches," Gaer said on Friday.
"Gunstock Inn is most cost prohibitive," he said adding that it has been winterized and is "all shut down."
Both the Gunstock Inn and the Arches have been taken recently through foreclosure actions. Gaer said a bank purchased the Arches at an auction held there recently.
The Phoenix House has three locations in New Hampshire one of which is at the Daniel Webster Farm in Franklin. They share the farm with the Easter Seals who has opted to take over the entire operation and will not renew the Phoenix House lease.
Lavallee and Gaer met on February 4 in a information session with the Gilford Planning Board to see what kinds of zoning restrictions there may be on using the the top floor of the facility as an in-house drug and alcohol rehabilitation center and the bottom floor as a separately operated fitness center with a heated, indoor pool.
While everyone on the Planning Board supported the concept, there was some issue as to what uses were allowed used in the area and whether or not the Phoenix House would need to go to the Zoning Board of Adjustments for a special exception or a variance.
After discussing it for about 45 minutes, Gilford Planning Board Chair John Morgenstern recommended Lavallee and Gaer schedule a meeting with Zoning Board of Adjustments while Town Planner John Ayer continued to examine the town ordinances. Ayer said there was no formal application made to the ZBA, which meets Thursday.
Northfield Town Administrator Glenn Smith said that as of Friday afternoon no formal application has been made to the Northfield Zoning Board from the Phoenix House or any of its representatives.
The Gunstock Inn is now owned by Northway Bank. The Arches in now owned by Houston-based Southwest Guaranty LLC, which, according to the Concord Monitor, bought the propery at a Feb. 12 acution for $500,000, more than $2 million less than the face value of the mortgage that was held on the property.