By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Lakeport Landing Marina will begin construction its offices and showroom on the site of the former Lakeport Fire Station before the year is out.
After reviewing four proposals to acquire and develop the property, on Monday the City Council authorized city manager to enter a purchase-and-sales agreement with Blizzard Inc., owner of the the marina, for the former fire station and two adjacent parcels. Erica Blizzard offered $475,000 for the properties, more than twice the second-highest bid, and intends to invest between $800,000 and $1 million in renovating and converting the fire station to office, storage and display space.
Blizzard plans to wrap an L-shaped glassed display space around the front and west side of the fire station, which will remain visible from the outside while serving as a showroom. The station itself will house office and storage space as well as an area commemorating the station itself.
"Lakeport Landing marina is excited to move forward with this opportunity," Blizzard said in a prepared statement. "Our new showroom will preserve a historically relevant building and also enhance and improve the appearance of Lakeport Square. The existing fire station will be used for offices and the glass showroom will allow the fire station to be visible from the outside. The expansion of our operations will give us the ability to continue to serve our customers and the Lakeport community will benefit as well as we continue to address and support the needs of the area."
Altogether, Blizzard acquired three lots. The lot housing the Lakeport Fire Station is 0.32 acres and the lot abutting it to the rear of the building is 0.195 acres. The third lot, an approximately 0.27-acre strip between Union Avenue and the railroad is what the city retained of an 0.81-acre parcel, which the city had leased to Lakeport Landing Marina since 1985.
In acquiring the property, Blizzard accepted a boundary line adjustment that preserved Railroad Avenue as a public street and granted the city an easement to maintain the retaining wall along Union Avenue. Likewise, she agreed to the closure of the curb cut along Elm Street and to the construction of a sidewalk on Elm Street and, if necessary on the east side of Railroad Avenue. At the same time, the city abandoned its right-of-way in front of the fire station and added it to the lot.
Furthermore, Blizzard agreed to a half-dozen other conditions. The marina will allow public parking in its lot outside when the business is not operating and will not segregate the two parking lots on the property with a fence or gate. During Motorcycle Week the Lakeport Association will be permitted to sell tickets for train rides and charge for parking when the marina is not operating. Finally the marina agreed not to store customers' boats along Union Avenue during the winter.
"This is a satisfactory resolution to what has been a very long and complicated process," said Mayor Ed Engler.
In 1985, Lakeport Landing leased part of an 0.81 acre parcel along Union Avenue where the firm built its offices and showroom. The last of three of ten year leases expired in November, 2015 and by the terms of the original lease could not be renewed. Blizzard sought to purchase the property, but was outbid by Irwin Marine. Blizzard challenged the pending sale in court and the court granted Irwin Marine's petition to intervene in the litigation and urged all three parties to seek a settlement. edition Irwin Marine was admitted as a party to the case. Before the case came to trial Blizzard and the city reached a tentative settlement. Although the terms were never disclosed, it appears that the the opportunity to purchase the Lakeport Fire Station was an element of the settlement.
In November, the council invited bids and proposals for the three parcels. Bidders for the property were required to explain how and when they intended to redevelop it as well as whether the fire station would be incorporated in the redevelopment of the property. Proposals were required to include the lot housing the fire station, but not necessarily either of the other two parcels.
Apart from Blizzard's proposal, there were three others. Charles Avery, owner of CJ Avery's restaurant on Railroad offered $226,000 for the fire station, which he proposed converting into a restaurant. Lakeside Landscaping bid $100,447 for the three lots, which it planned to use for storing equipment and materials. Scott Everett of Dallas, Texas, who owns a home on Paugus Park Road as well as Big Island in Paugus Bay, bid $275,000 for the three lots, but offered no proposal to develop them.
This is an architect's vision of the old Lakeport fire station, remodeled into offices and showroom space for Lakeport Landing marina. Construction is expected to begin this year. (Courtesy graphic)