LACONIA — The City Council this week unanimously authorized the expenditure of up to $35,000 toward the cost of installing a 10 inch water main-line to the former Evangelical Baptist Church on Veterans Square, which David and Maureen Kennedy of Hampton, owners of Holy Grail Food and Spirits, intend to convert to a restaurant and pub.
The council acted on the recommendation of the Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Advisory Board to draw half the cost, up to $35,000, of the water line from the TIF fund, which has a current balance of $311,353 and projected revenue of $173,687 this year. The Kennedys will bear half the cost extending the line from Main Street to the lot.
City Manager Scott Myers explained that the current 1-inch-line water service to the building would not support a sprinkler system, which the building and fire codes require of a restaurant. Furthermore, he explained that extending the larger line to the historic church building would provide capacity to expand water service to other properties in the vicinity, particularly the railroad station.
On behalf of the Downtown TIF Advisory Board, Kevin Dunleavy, director of Parks and Recreation, explained that once the church building is returned to the tax rolls, the TIF fund will begin recovering its investments in property tax revenue. Above all, he said that facilitating the conversion of the property was in keeping with the mission of the TIF District to encourage private investment and economic development in the center of the city.
Kennedy discussed his plans for the building with the city's Technical Review Committee last week and is scheduled to seek the approval of the Planning Board next month. Planning Director Shanna Saunders said that "we fast tracked this project."
Kennedy said that he expects to close on the purchase of the building from the church next month and anticipates completing the conversion in seven months. The restaurant will be the Kennedys' second, both housed in churches. The Holy Grail Restaurant and Pub in what was St. Joseph's Church on Main Street in Epping has twice been chosen as the state's finest Irish pub by New Hampshire Magazine.
NOTE: The City Council authorized City Manager Scott Myers to purchase another 300 recycling toters to sell to residents at a discounted price. Myers said that the Department of Public Works (DPW) sold the last of the initial batch of 1,000 64-gallon toters in August and had a list of some 75 residents wishing to buy if the offer was renewed. He said that the price of the toters has risen from $45 to $55, but suggesting offering them for sale with the same $20 discount. The net cost to the city of $6,000, Myers said could be drawn from the DPW's operating budget without issue.