COLONIAL

Renovation of the dormant Colonial Theatre in downtown Laconia is on the City Council agenda for Monday night. (File photo)

LACONIA — Mayor Ed Engler will give a presentation at the City Council meeting Monday night on the much-delayed project to restore the 104-year-old Colonial Theatre.

Also on Monday, the council is to hold a public hearing on Comcast’s request to provide cable television service in Laconia. It is seeking a franchise to go into competition with Atlantic Broadband, which currently is the city’s sole cable television provider.

The Colonial Theatre project, intended to breathe new life into downtown Laconia, was originally slated to begin Jan. 1, 2017, but could finally get underway this year if the financing package comes together.

It is possible that, in late February or early March, federal New Markets tax credits, which are to provide $5.4 million for the $17 million project and represent the final unresolved piece of financing, will be received, allowing work to go forward.

Engler will discuss the entire funding package for the project in his Monday presentation. He has hinted previously that more city resources may be needed and has said the City Council will be presented with a recommendation for changes in the scope of the project.

The New Markets program attracts private capital into low-income areas. Investors receive a credit against their federal income tax in exchange for making investments through community development entities — in this case, Mascoma Bank.

When the U.S. Treasury on Feb. 13 allocated $3.5 billion in New Markets tax credits, Mascoma was not one of the 73 recipient organizations. A total of 230 groups applied.

Engler has said Mascoma views it as unlikely that it will be denied the tax credits two years in a row. Also, it has analyzed how its application for the credits was scored in the last allocation and feels its new proposal will be viewed more favorably.

A committee of city officials and members of the board of directors of the Belknap Economic Development Council has been meeting frequently. The Economic Development Council has been organizing the project.

The city has loaned $1.4 million to the theater revitalization and plans an ultimate investment of $4.2 million.

The hope is that the project will attract more people, business and investment in a downtown area where there is more than 100,000 square feet of commercial space for sale or lease.

The economic development council is using a mix of state, federal, city and donor money in the financing package.

Once home to vaudeville shows, the theater became a cinema after World War I. In the 1980s, it was divided into a five-screen multiplex, which closed in 2001.

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