Wednesday April 24, 2013

HOWARD WEISS-TISMAN

Brattleboro Reformer

BRATTLEBORO -- The group that is working to reopen the Brooks House is telling its tenants that the banks are going through the numbers and trying to put the financial package together, and construction could begin in the coming months.

Mesabi LLC, the five investors who have come together to redevelop the 142-year-old Main Street property, sent out a message on its Facebook page Monday to say that while a number of start dates have come and gone, the project is still moving forward.

"We are moving steadily toward closing and hope to start construction in early summer," the developers wrote.

It has been just more than two years since a five alarm fire heavily damaged the historic 1871 building.

About a year after the fire property owner Jonathan Chase said he would not be able to renovate the building and Mesabi LLC came together to try to raise the estimated $23 million it will take to renovate and rebuild the structure.

The developers hoped to get its financing in place by the end of 2012 to take advantage of tax credits that year but the complex deal could not be completed.

Then they said construction might start in the spring but the lead bank wanted more commitments from potential tenants and the project was pushed back again.


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Last month developers held a leasing party and open house to generate more interest and after the event it was announced that the group had acquired pre-lease for more than 70 percent of the building, which was the threshold the banks wanted before they would sign off on the loans.

They said at that time that work could start by late spring.

Allyson Wendt, spokeswoman for Stevens and Associates, which is one the partners in the deal, said Jayne Wood has been hired as the property manager to work with the tenants, and also to continue working to rent out the available space.

Wendt said design work is advancing and the investment group remains confident that all of the pieces will come together so construction crews can get inside and start work.

"We wanted to contact our tenants and let them know we are still here," Wendt said Monday. "It is taking us a little longer than we thought to put all the pieces together. Anyone who has bought a house knows these things take time. This is like putting a deal together for a very big house."