Town accepting proposals for Old Southworth Library reuse

Sep 20, 2017

A year after Town Meeting voters decided against selling the Old Southworth Library, town officials are one step closer to finding a new occupant.

Requests for proposals from people interested in leasing or purchasing the 404 Elm Street building – the former site of the Southworth Library – are now open. The 1,386 square-foot building has remained vacant since 2016 when its previous tenant, the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust, moved into a new headquarters building on Chase Road.

After an initial idea to sell the building was rejected at the 2016 Spring Town Meeting, a committee was formed to figure out what to do with the former library, which was built at the corner of Elm Street and Prospect Street in 1889.

The committee decided to draft different requests for proposals for three unique use cases to attract a prospective tenant. The town will then select a single proposal from the three that serves in the best interest of the town.

The first is an outright sale of the building, which is valued at $234,600, according to the town assessment database.

The town is asking for a minimum of $275,000 for the sale. The purchase proposal would add a deed restriction requiring the new owner to preserve the building’s façade, and grants the town the right of first refusal should the owner decide to sell the property in the future. That would require the owner to offer the property for sale to the town before putting it up on the public market.

The second and third proposals aim to lease the building while still maintaining town ownership of the property. One would offer the building for a ten-year lease to a non-profit organization for public use. Minimum lease payments are listed from $24,000 in year one to $31,315 for the final year totaling $275,133.

The third proposal would open the building up to a shorter-term, three-year lease. Payments range from $18,000 to $19,096 for a minimum base of $55,636.

Under the short-term lease option, the town would be responsible covering the costs of maintaining the building and its systems.

In previous meetings, Old Southworth Library Committee members noted the building needs about $280,000 in maintenance work, which includes roof repairs and handicap accessibility projects.

The deadline to submit proposals is October 6. The full documents can be downloaded from the town website.