What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
The goal of the project is to support downtown revitalization and small business growth by creating an arts-focused anchor attraction in downtown Laconia that will generate significantly more economic activity and foot traffic downtown. We will conduct an annual windshield survey to track the vacancy rate downtown as the Colonial Theatre project moves forward and we will poll businesses on their annual sales and employment levels each year during the reporting period to measure if the project is having the desired impact. We anticipate that after the completion of Colonial Theatre project, over $1 million in annual new sales will be generated at existing and new downtown businesses. This will support approximately 17 new jobs (12 direct and 5 indirect) being created downtown and will save another five jobs, which is the typical number of jobs lost as a result of regular turnover of storefronts due to the weak market that currently exists downtown. These jobs are typical jobs at small-scale retail shops, which tend to be micro-enterprises employing the owner(s) directly. They are year-round jobs that provide a living wage for enterprising small business owners. See the brief economic impact statement attached under Other Attachments for details and assumptions used to arrive at these numbers.
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
The City of Laconia is an investor in this project and has led efforts to redevelop Downtown Laconia. Organizations such as the Laconia School District , Lakes Region Community College, the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Streetcar Company (local performing arts non-profit), Putnam Fund (local charitable organization), and several other community partners have been working closely with Belknap EDC to plan the project and develop operational systems for the completed Theater project.
Cultural Arts Center of the Lakes Region, Inc. (fundraising partner)
City of Laconia (funding partner and master tenant)
Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce (general partner)
Lakes Region Community College (general partner)
Belknap Mill Society (general partner)
Streetcar Company (potential user of theater)
Putnam Fund (potential user of theater)
Laconia School District (potential user of theater)
Business Community (user of theater and funding)
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
The Colonial Theater has been called a "jewel box" by preservationists and historians, the "key catalyst" to the rebirth of Laconia by economists, and the "community development project" that will lead to more private investment in Laconia and the region building economic opportunity. The project's completion will impact the community in many ways by building a renewed sesne of pride, driving foot traffic to Downtown Laconia, and supporting surrounding businesses and increasing property values in the City of Laconia. The positive momentum of the planned project has already led to new businesses opening and expanding in the Downtown area.
This project will increase the tax base downtown by increasing business opportunity downtown, which will incentivize downtown property owners to make improvements to capture a larger piece of the growing market. According to data from the Laconia Assessor’s office, total assessed value in the downtown Laconia TIF district is approximately $153 million. The TIF district encompasses a larger area than the immediate downtown core. Assessed value within this district has grown by more than 100% since the district was established in 2004, due largely to the conversion of the old Allen Rogers mill into market rate condominiums. TIF district records indicate that almost NO significant improvements have been made to properties in the downtown core around the Colonial Theatre since 2004. This is the area surveyed in April 2015 that includes the 68 contiguous storefronts in the triangle shaped core of downtown (Main St, Veteran’s Square, and Pleasant Street) where there is a 20% first-floor vacancy rate. It is clear that the Colonial Theatre in its current state makes this part of downtown very unattractive to private investors. This project will also improve health and safety by addressing code violations that exist in the Colonial Theatre, which pose a health and safety risks to the general public.
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
Keene NH Downtown Development Projects
Concord NH Downtown Redevelopment Projects