Hope and Main, Warren close in on deal


Next step: It comes to a vote.

The Warren Town Council voted unanimously last week to sell the old Main Street School to the Hope and Main kitchen incubator outfit for $125,000. The sale is contingent on voter approval at a special Financial Town Meeting; town officials hope to have one in the near future, though they have not yet set a date.

The deal is also contingent on Hope and Main's Lisa Raiola signing a memorandum of understanding with the Town of Warren that will likely include financial incentives for the town. Warren Town Council president Chris Stanley said Tuesday that while the $125,000 sale price might seem like a "bargain basement" price — the property is assessed by the town at $1.113 million — the memo of understanding will include provisions that protect the town financially when and if the sale goes through.

"Our pitch is, (Hope and Main is) getting this for a bargain price, but there are other expectations involved," he said. "Whether it's a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes), revenue sharing … we want that. If not, we as a council and the public have a safety valve to say, 'I don't think so.' While it doesn't look like our net gain up front is very much, at the end of the day there are additional moneys headed our way."

A memo of understanding is nothing new, as town councilors had signed one with Ms. Raiola when the plan was still to lease the building to Hope and Main. Now that Ms. Raiola has asked to purchase the building to fulfill a requirement for a $3 million federal loan, she said she's happy to consider a new memorandum.

"Of course," she said Tuesday. While it will have to be adjusted given the fact that the deal will be a purchase and not a lease, "this is something we have worked together with the town on all along; this is a cooperative effort."

The council is expected to discuss the terms of the memorandum with Ms. Raiola at next Tuesday's meeting.

The possible sale comes at the last minute for Ms. Raiola, who had until last Wednesday, August 1 to complete an application package to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). She hopes to receive a $3 million loan from the agency, and obtaining a sales agreement was an essential prerequisite for that loan application.

Now that the town council has agreed to the sale, she said she's focused not just on the memo but on "getting out the vote" in advance of the upcoming financial town meeting. It's her understanding that at least 125 electors must show up to constitute a quorum, and "obviously from that we need a majority."

"Now we just need to educate people," she said.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.