Fox School in Paris could become senior housing

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PARIS — Selectmen want the town’s attorney to look over the proposed purchase and sale agreement for the Mildred M. Fox School before they move forward with the potential sale of the historic building in attempt to get it on the tax rolls once again.

At the Monday, June 13 Paris selectmen’s meeting, Interim Town Manager Sawin Millett asked board members if they wanted a legal review of the second draft of the agreement, which he said shouldn’t cost much in legal fees. Selectmen agreed.

“It’s no secret that the concept is one of developing the building into apartments for low- to moderate-income seniors and the party that is proposing is an independent development company not directly connected to North Country or Andrews House but certainly there has been close communications between the developer and the nursing home owners,” Millett said before Monday’s meeting.

The town reacquired the 1882 three-story brick building at 10 E. Main St. back from SAD 17 last year. In December 2015 voters approved putting the property on the market and in February selectmen solicited requests for expressions of interest from potential buyers.

At Monday’s meeting, Millett recommended selectmen place the item on the agenda for their Monday, June 27 meeting and hold an executive session with the interested party ahead of the meeting to discuss the plan further.

“We made that commitment once we had an acceptable purchase and sale agreement, we would hold a public hearing before the board would take action,” he said, noting a public hearing will need to be scheduled.

Selectman Vic Hodgkins said he needed some clarification on the proposal.

“I would like to get a couple of my questions answered and share my concerns,” he said, adding he’d prefer to hold an executive session on the matter before the June 27 meeting. Millett agreed this could be done.

Almost all of the funding for the potential sale and project – which would include renovations and installing an elevator and new heating system – is in place, according to Millet.

“We’re at the stage right now that the funding to make this happen is about 90 percent approved and they’re waiting for one last piece of funding involving the State Housing Authority,” he said earlier Monday.

The subsidized housing project would use federal, state and historic tax credits for funding, Millett said.

“The plan and vision is relatively low rental costs given the economy of the area and the per capita income and the subsidized components,” he added. “The open expectation is that individuals or couples that apply and are deemed eligible would be able to live in an apartment-style setting at very affordable rates.”

Millett said assuming everything went through with the deal, the property could rejoin the tax rolls between a year and a year and a half from now.

“The town and the developer are clear in the hope that we can make it happen in the fiscal year and get the closure through the deed activity and make the sale complete,” he said.

Selectmen will revisit the issue at a future meeting.

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