To The Daily Sun,
The Moultonborough Heritage Commission asks all residents to vote in favor of Article 19 at Town Meeting, which would approve the sale of the Taylor House to members of our community who intend to completely rehabilitate it for a retail business. This is consistent with planning goals to revitalize our village center.
Last July’s popular Charrette focused attention on our village’s scenic beauty and attractive rural character, and on re-purposing the Taylor House and other unique historic buildings in ways that would support the vision for the village that the community has defined. To strengthen existing small-town character, our Village Vision Report (2015) encourages the “re-use and redevelopment of historic village buildings (rather than demolition).” The Charrette Report (November 2018) notes how the Taylor House is structurally solid, but suffers from deferred maintenance, and recommends that “the property be subdivided … the building could be sold or leased to an entity that would rehabilitate it and return it to the tax rolls.”
In December 2018, the Town of Moultonborough put out a RFP (Request for Proposals) for the ‘Purchase or Lease, and Rehabilitation and Redevelopment of the French-Taylor House’ on Route 25 at the center of Moultonborough Village. This RFP process was the culmination of over a year of study and discussion on the future use of the historic Taylor House, situated directly on our ‘Main Street’.
Stating that the house ‘is suitable for office, retail, residential, and mixed uses as per the Town’s Village Center Overlay District’, the RFP notes how “An attractive project will retain the historic character and defining features of the house while accommodating new functions. Recent Town planning efforts and incentives are focused on village revitalization and promotion of economic development opportunities…The Town welcomes proposals that will best take advantage of the opportunities that this high traffic, high visibility location offers. It is the Town’s intention to retain the majority of the remaining 5 acres not dedicated to the re-use project for development of a Town common or as community ‘green’ space.”
In early January, the Town received a comprehensive proposal to buy, rehabilitate, and repurpose the Taylor House with 1.5 acres for commercial use (home décor, furnishings, antiques), which is consistent with community planning, economic development, and heritage goals established through recent studies and our Master Plan. Best of all, this wonderful proposal comes from Moultonborough residents!
The proposal was first discussed by the Board of Selectmen on January 17th, and then again on January 24th, when Mark and Sarah Cotrupi came in to discuss details and their extensive experience with similar restoration/retail projects. The Cotrupis have a successful business model for redeveloping historic properties for retail, and a great track record. Their ‘Main Street’ retail business ‘The Keeping Room’ was a catalyst for downtown reinvestment and revitalization. The Cotrupis plan to restore the entire Taylor house (with barns) within a year’s time, and would work with the Town on shared parking for the village green space. They embrace community partnerships, and would make the restored barns available for events.
A visible and exciting rehabilitation project like this on Moultonborough’s ‘Main Street’ would be a catalyst for other redevelopment projects, and promote downtown vitality. Let’s welcome local business and reinvestment in our village. Once again, we ask voters to support Article 19 at Town Meeting on March 16th.
Moultonborough Heritage Commission
Cristina Ashjian, Chair; Ed Charest, Norman Larson, Diane MacArthur, Joel Mudgett, David Oliver