Much work has gone into bringing back Troy Mills property

Much work has gone into bringing back Troy Mills property

By Meghan Foley Sentinel Staff
| Posted: Monday, January 26, 2015 12:00 pm

TROY — Any way you look at it, the loss of Troy Mills in the early 2000s, and the subsequent $1.6 million environmental cleanup of the 19-acre site has been a hardship for the town.

So it’s not surprising that residents and officials in this community of roughly 2,140 want it back on the tax rolls as soon as possible.

But more than a decade after the facility shut down in 2001, visible progress toward a reinvented classic New England mill property isn’t there, residents gathered at a recent selectmen’s meeting said.

And they’re losing patience with the property’s owner, Troy Redevelopment Group, and faith in developer Robert E. Hanson, who has been working for eight years on plans for the property.

A previous board of selectmen formed the nonprofit Troy Redevelopment Group and appointed a board of directors to address environmental concerns on the former Troy Mills property.

Troy Mills Inc. first made horse blankets before becoming a leading producer of automotive fabrics. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2003.

At a selectmen’s meeting Jan. 19, tempers boiled over in regards to the mill and a secret deal for the property, after Selectman Gideon L. Nadeau Sr. went public with the proposal, saying he believes town residents should have a say on the proposal. Many residents turned out to protest how the proposed sale is being handled.

The meeting came the week after selectmen met in nonpublic session to discuss a proposal from the Troy Redevelopment Group to sell the former mill property to Hanson’s new corporate entity, Troy Properties LLC.

Part of that deal includes the town forgiving a $1.2 million tax lien on the site.

Hanson and his partners have been working with the redevelopment group during the past eight years through a company called Troy Mills Developers LLC.

Donald A. Upton, chairman of the Troy Redevelopment Group, defended the proposal after last week’s selectmen meeting. Progress has been made toward developing the property, he said, and it’s taken as long as it has because of the extensive cleanup. The property is now clean and ready for development, he said last week.

While Upton and Hanson didn’t return multiple phone messages last week seeking further information about the proposal and plans for the property, reports presented to the selectmen in June 2014 answer some questions. The first of them being what has been done at the site since the 2003 bankruptcy.

According to one of the reports, the environmental cleanup of the site was funded by state and federal loans and grants in 2007, 2008 and 2010 ranging from $100,000 to $600,000.

Besides the cleanup, buildings totaling 130,000 square feet have been selectively demolished; the property has been surveyed and site plans designed; and a historic preservation agreement reached, the report said.

In addition, Troy Mills Developers have installed a closed-circuit television system; paid the insurance, power, streetlights and water and sewer bills; taken care of the snow plowing and yard maintenance; and hired a full-time, on-site facility manager to do daily checks of the buildings, according to the report.

The report includes a statement from Hanson that Troy Mills Developers had used in “excess of $1.76 million” of its private capital and “approximately 15,300 partner hours” to stabilize the buildings on the property.

A separate report says while the Troy Redevelopment Group owns the property, if the group dissolves, “all assets of the corporation pass to the town of Troy.”

Besides releasing the $1.2 million tax lien, the recent proposal also includes Troy Properties receiving approval from the planning board to subdivide the site, and the company reaching agreements with the N.H. Department of Environmental Services and the N.H. Community Development Finance Authority on loans that have been taken out for hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up the site.

Provided all conditions are met, Hanson’s group would buy the property for $400,000, but pay for it over three years, according to the memo.

A town meeting warrant article approved by voters in 2004 gives the selectmen the authority to sell or assign ownership of the Troy Mills complex.

The selectmen voted unanimously at last week’s meeting to postpone a vote on the proposal, including the tax forgiveness, until April 27.