To The Daily Sun,
Hard to believe it has already been one month since we acquired the Colonial Theater building!
I thought this would be a great time to provide a brief update as the Belknap EDC (Economic Development Council) has been very busy on a number of tracks. One of the first items we are moving quickly with is an environmental Phase II study. We have applied for grant funding and hopefully this fall you will see us removing the underground oil storage tank (UST) that lay beneath the ground in the alley on Canal Street. It is our understanding it was closed in place and we will need to remove this as one of our first priorities prior to redevelopment. We have also secured the building and introduced ourselves to our new tenants. Bayside Property Support Services has been hired to manage the property. Rob Wichland, Chris Kelly, and their team are doing a great job and have been excellent to work with.
The outpouring of public support has been tremendous and we want to provide as much communication as possible throughout the project. Over 50 people have offered their time and talent to assist with our planning/building and fundraising committee. Our board decided to create these two committees and involve not only Belknap EDC board members but community members with diverse backgrounds and experience. The building committee has met twice already and the discussions have been very productive. We are looking forward to draft plans to not only bring the theater back but to optimize its functionality for a multitude of uses. Our website will also include all pertinent activities, timelines and photos of the project as we move forward. Our project developer, Steve Horton, has begun guiding us down the planning path. Steve is leading our building committee and has over 30 years of project management experience including the renovation of the Keene Colonial Theater. RFQs (Request for Qualifications) for both project architect and construction manager have recently been advertised. Due date for these are September 8th at which time we will look to narrow the field, make a selection, and have them both join our building committee.
Our fundraising committee should start up within the next few weeks. We have made positive advances toward obtaining historic tax credits as well as new market tax credits. These efforts continue side-by-side with the planning phase under the leadership of our executive director, Justin Slattery.
We hope to include as many individuals as possible in a variety of activities going forward. If you have offered to assist in any way, and we have not reached out to you just yet, please be patient. We will be in touch!
Randy Eifert, Chair
Belknap Economic Development Council
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