By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Genesis Behavioral Health has made a purchase-and-sales agreement with LRGHealthcare to acquire the building at 577 Main St. that houses HealthLink in a transaction anticipated to close in March.
"I'm delighted," said Maggie Pritchard, executive director of Genesis, who said she has been looking for a property where the agency could consolidate all its clinical and administrative operations under one roof, for eight of the 10 years of her tenure. "We have been seeking a facility that best meets the needs of our patients, staff and community for many years. The prospective purchase of this property is an opportunity for Genesis to become more efficient, expand services in Belknap County and contribute to the economic growth and vitality of downtown Laconia."
Earlier this year, Genesis abandoned plans to purchase the privately owned portion of the downtown parking garage when the condition and future of the structure were clouded in uncertainty, and in 2010 failed to secure the Federal Building on North Main Street, which was awarded instead to Lakes Region Community Services.
The acquisition will enable Genesis to combine its two campuses at 111 Church St. and 771 N. Main St., along with leased office suites on Beacon Street West and Water Street, at a single location.
Neither Genesis nor LRGHealthcare are disclosing the terms of the transaction. The property consists of three separate but interconnected buildings with approximately 23,000 square feet of usable space with a current assessed value of $1,335,300.
Pritchard said that the building will be completely renovated "down to the brick," and estimates the cost of the project at approximately $5 million. Genesis is working with Samyn-D'Elia Architects of Ashland, REI Service Corporation of Manchester and Conneston Construction Inc. of Laconia and is committed to employing local vendors to undertake the project. The renovation will be financed with borrowings from the New Hampshire Health and Education Facilities Authority, tax credits from the Community Development Finance Authority, proceeds from the sale of Genesis's properties,
Pritchard said that Genesis expects to begin renovating the building in April and to occupy it by Dec. 1, 2017. "It's an aggressive schedule," she said, "but we can do it."
Kevin Donovan, president and chief executive officer of LRGHealthcare, said that the corporation "has a strong history of partnership with Genesis Behavioral Health and we understand the need for community-based health care for those with mental illness. The sale of the HealthLink Building to Genesis," he went on, "further solidifies our desire to find solutions that meet the growing demands for mental health services in our region."
Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Engler said, "We are so excited to bring additional employees and new customers to the downtown area and that a significant structure located in the heart of downtown Laconia will receive a major facelift. The city is committed to making our Main Street a vibrant center for commerce and this initiative will contribute significantly to that objective."
A private, nonprofit corporation, Genesis Behavioral Health is designated by the state as the community health center serving Beknap and southern Grafton counties and provides mental health care to some 4,000 individuals of all ages each year.