Kennedy move frees up office space in Peterborough
Guernsey Building, Peterborough (Staff photo by Dave Anderson) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
PETERBOROUGH — Last month’s decision by Kennedy Information LLC to move its corporate office to Keene will free up about 40,000 square feet of space in the Guernsey Professional Building on Main Street. The building’s owner, Rob Finlay of Peterborough, hopes to lease quickly to a new tenant. And he said there are no plans to convert the building to a hotel.
“We’re very sorry to see Kennedy Information go,” Finlay said in a phone interview last week. “They were a fantastic tenant. We’re obviously trying to lease the space now and we’ll be putting up a sign shortly.”
Finlay said he is optimistic that the space can be filled.
“I really think being downtown has a benefit for people,” he said. “We love Peterborough and we’re excited about this building. We are one of the largest buildings in town, with quite a bit of square footage.”
When asked about whether he was looking to remodel the building as a hotel, Finlay said that was not in his plans.
“There have been a lot of rumors,” he said. “This is an office building. That’s what we’re looking at here.”
R.J. Finlay and Co., based in Nashua, is a real estate and construction company that owns and manages office buildings in several states. In addition to the Guernsey building, its New Hampshire properties include office buildings in Nashua, Bedford, Hampton and Concord.
Kim Reagan, director of leasing for R.J Finlay and Co., said Thursday that the building has about eight tenants now, including two that recently moved in.
“We’re excited about what we can do with the building,” Reagan said. “Our intent is to basically give it some spit and polish and hopefully bring in some new businesses.”
Reagan said the company bought the former Indian Head Bank, the largest building in downtown Nashua, in 2011.
“It was 23 percent occupied then. Now, it’s nearly 70 percent occupied,” she said. “We’ve had success in taking iconic buildings and bringing them back to life.”
Reagan also said there were no plans to change the use of the Guernsey building
“It’s not going to be a hotel,” she said. “When we buy a building, we do a full evaluation. We look at what the community will support, we go thorough the building from top to bottom. At this time, we really believe an office use is the right choice.”
The talk of a hotel may have been sparked by lack of progress on a proposal from Peterborough businessmen Stan Fry and Cy Gregg for a boutique hotel in the Granite Block building at the corner of Main and Grove streets.
On Thursday, Fry said he’d had discussions about putting a hotel in the Guernsey building.
“As we investigated further, it didn’t pan out,” Fry said. “We’re back to working on the Granite Block.”
Fry said the Granite Block hotel plan had started out as a small project, but gradually grew to become a 40 room hotel, which was presented to the Planning Board in the fall of 2011. Finlay’s company was involved with the design of that proposed renovation.
“As we looked at it, we concluded it was just too expensive a project to do under the sort of ‘build it and they will come’ philosophy,” Fry said about the 40-room plan. “We can’t get any marketing study that makes us convinced it would work.”
Fry said he and Gregg are now thinking about scaling back the plan to about 20 rooms.
“We’re still working on it,” Fry said. “We don’t have any firm timetable but we’re anxious to get going. We may have been lucky that we didn’t build during a downturn.”
Fry said he expects construction to start in the next few weeks on another downtown project that he and Gregg are doing — the renovation of the former Fireplace Village building on Grove Street next to the Nubanusit River. The building will have retail space on the lower level and first floor and condominium apartments upstairs.
Fry said negotiations are underway with a couple of businesses that might lease the retail space. He said Hutter Construction of New Ipswich has been hired to do the renovation work.
Peterborough real estate agent Andy Peterson said Thursday that there has been an oversupply of office space in downtown Peterborough for several years.
“The communications revolution has changed the world, Peterson said. “The needs for office space have changed, and people are doing a tremendous amount of business out of smaller spaces.”
He said nonprofits such as Monadnock Developmental Services and HCS-Home Healthcare, Hospice & Community Services that have rented space downtown, which has enabled the office market to hold up reasonably well despite the recent recession.
According to Peterson, Peterborough offers a lifestyle that should help draw new businesses to town.
“It’s a place where the boss wants to live,” he said.