“We’re here to announce today that we’re joining in with the fight against the epidemic facing our city. The private sector has come to the conclusion that government and non profits alone cannot face the enemy that we’re fighting in the epidemic that’s going on in our city.”
Those words were spoken by developer Dick Anagnost at a press conference hosted by Hope for New Hampshire Recovery yesterday to announce the acquisition of the former C A Hoitt Furniture building at the corner of Wilson and Valley streets. Anagnost and AutoFair owner Andy Crews announced they’ve entered into an agreement with the Longo family to purchase vacant thirty seven thousand square foot facility, which they hope to close on within the next thirty days.
In his comments, Anagnost cited the lack of suitable space as a primary reason why services needed to help addicts kick their habit are in short supply. The plan for this building is two fold: First, to provide affordable space for non-profits that provide services to addicts in search of help and second to provide temporary housing for those in recovery so they don’t have to return to the people and places that fed their addiction.
Yesterday’s announcement brings an end to what’s been at least a year long search for a building that would accomplish these goals. In addition to Anagnost, Mayor Ted Gatsas and Ward Three Alderman Patrick Long were actively involved in locating and evaluating buildings.
Gatsas said, both before and after the formal event, that finding such a facility was key in fighting the epidemic, noting, as he has on numerous occasions, that having a place for addicts to go and get the help they need and find housing that will keep them out of harm’s and temptation’s way will significantly improve their chances of success as they go through rehab programs like drug court. He also said that finding space arrangements that lowered the service providers’ overhead costs and increased their ability to cooperate would allow them to put more of their resources into direct services.
Hope for New Hampshire Recovery board member Melissa Crews said the building will enable outreach from her organization to others battling addiction to occupy the building. She also said it would allow them to fill in service gaps to ensure that all services that need to be available to help those who want recovery become available. If all goes as planned, Hope for New Hampshire Recovery should be able to move from its current nine hundred square foot office, where they’ve seen more than a thousand people over the past three months, to a new seventy five hundred square foot office in the building by mid spring.
Representing the family that owns the property, Brian Longo said they were happy to come to favorable financial arrangements in the sale of the property not just to do their part to help the city, but also to honor their father’s legacy of community service. Longo became emotional in speaking of his father, the site of which caused his two sisters to come from the audience and stand by his side. One put her head on his shoulder as they consoled each other.
Ben Nardi, the real estate broker representing the family, told Girard at Large he’d contacted Anagnost to invite him to take a look at the property and see if it would be suitable to their needs. The rest is history.
In an interview with Girard at Large, Manchester Fire Chief James Burkush, to whom Anagnost made a couple of references in his presentation, said the department stood ready to work with the building’s soon to be new owners to facilitate the redevelopment. He also said that he’d been to any number of conferences and seminars designed to address the raging epidemic and that Manchester was already well ahead of most communities in addressing the crisis. He said it was evidence that “in Manchester we don’t wait around, we get things done.”
Former Alderman Mike Lopez, who has been active with Hope for NH Recovery for the past two years, said union and veteran groups would rally around the rehabilitation of the building, which Anagnost said was going to take five to six million dollars to renovate. Because the property will be held by private owners, it will remain on the tax rolls and pay taxes.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
The Girard at Large Radio Show won a Granite Mike Merit Award from the New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters last night. The award was won in the Public Affairs Talk Radio category for our live broadcast of the Manchester Police Department’s heroin forum. We’d certainly like to thank all those who made our appearance at that event possible and those who make it possible for us to bring you our shows each and every day. Thank you!
Don’t forget to turn your clocks back and replace the batteries in your smoke alarms this Saturday night! That message brought to you by the Manchester Fire Department. Now, I have to figure out how to get my little kids to stay in bed so we can actually recapture that lost hour of sleep.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!