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Old 10-03-2018, 07:48 PM   #28
Urban Renewalist
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I appreciate everyone's responses. I'd like to make a couple points:

Perspective - to a person who doesn't use downtown Laconia regularly, it is easy to make the assumption that no one goes there. However, several hundred people live and work there already - Genesis Behavioral Health, the Clinic, Lakes Region Community Services, Bank of NH, City Hall, Rist Frost Shumway, the offices in the mills, the restaurants - Local, Hector's, Karma Cafe, Wayfarers, not to mention the businesses that line Main Street. The Allen Rogers apartments and River's Edge are modern housing complexes. Sunrise towers is expanding. The court, library, and post office are all located there. It's a 15 minute walk from 4 of the 5 city schools, and a twenty minute walk for perhaps half of the housing stock in the city. One could argue that downtown Laconia is looking stronger than anytime this century. Of course many of us don't use it. But many others do.

Opinions also depend on our values. As the name of this forum suggests, I imagine many of us are on this forum because the lake is our biggest priority. Waterfront homes command the same price as the cost of restoring the parking garage. The parking garage is already built. To tear it down would be to throw away a resource - like tearing down a waterfront cottage in order to build something larger than necessary. It requires more effort to renovate than to tear down and build new. That is a paradox of our culture. I value what we already have, and choose to put my time and energy into making what we already have better.

Regarding the Colonial Theatre, I think this is again a question of values. The benefit of any city - whether it's London or Laconia - is its cultural output. When people come together, we have more resources than when we are alone. A beautiful theatre that presents good performances is not just a benefit to taxpayers, it is a benefit to all people who wish to experience the products of our culture - plays, musicals, shows, concerts, performances, stage acts, perhaps a high school graduation, perhaps a city council induction ceremony. Some of us argue that it's too expensive to renovate the theatre - I argue it's too costly not to.

Finally, I do not propose this project to spur economic revitalization - it is meant to create an enjoyable urban experience for people who use downtown Laconia.

Economics are tied to the global market - we cannot stem the migration to southern NH, for they are closer to the Boston Metro. But if you do live in southern NH and commute to Boston Metro, I wonder how many people get to enjoy an urban experience in the communities where they live? I've said it before, that downtown Laconia is the largest urban area north of Concord in the state. At the end of the day, when the car is parked and the bills are paid, where do we enjoy our time? Perhaps it's at home in the living room. Despite all the material advantages of the sedentary lifestyle, the public sphere is a more compelling place to spend my time. But that is my opinion.

Regarding the costs - 3 million for the parking garage has been stated publicly in several news articles through the Daily Sun. 3 million for the Sawyer's Jewelry building I figured something like this - 40'x200' extension to the rear of the building at $250/sf = 2 million, plus one million for demolishing the front 25'x200' and renovations. Please let me know what a better estimate would be and how you got it.

Thank you.
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