By Alec Kerr
CONWAY — Mountain Top Music recently received $350,000 through the Community Development Finance Authority's tax credit program. This pushed the music center over the million dollar mark in its fundraising efforts for the Majestic Theatre/Bolduc Block renovation project.
"Receiving an award like this really is a stamp of confidence from the state government that your organization has gone through all of its paces," Mountain Top Executive Director George Wiese said.
The process began by sending a letter of intent to CDFA who then told Mountain Top to go forward with an application. Dave Mason, chairman of Mountain Top's capital campaign, believes that 60 organizations sent in letters, 39 of which were told to apply for the tax credit program. The CDFA then awarded $5.325 million in tax credits to 17 non-profits throughout New Hampshire.
"This is a project that the state is saying, with relative certainty, will succeed and will create economic improvement in the area, it will bring jobs to the area, both directly and indirectly," Wiese said.
The award means that Mountain Top holds tax credits that it can sell to businesses in the community. This allows local businesses the opportunity to see their tax money stay local.
"Part of the (CDFA) application process was asking what types of indirect jobs this project could create," Wiese said. "If you have more entertainment downtown, you might see more options for eating downtown, you might see a cinema museum come up, all sorts of things that could happen with a project like this as an outgrowth."
The application process also included reaching out to businesses and asking them to write letters saying that if the tax credits were available these businesses would consider buying them. Business that expressed interest included Cooper Cargill and Chant, White Mountain Oil, Zeb's, Glass Graphics, Leone McDonnell & Roberts, M&M Insurance, Milford Flooring, Northway Bank and the Bank of New Hampshire.
"Receiving the award really made us feel good about the plans we've drawn up. We're confident having now been scrutinized that we're on the right track," Wiese said.
Mountain Top purchased Bolduc Block, which includes the Majestic Theatre, in April 2015 with the intention of using the building for classroom space; restoring the theater, which was gutted by a fire in 2005; and repairing the store fronts for commercial rental. The project, which is projected to start construction on July 1, 2017, would also include a new back entrance to the building and making the upstairs handicap accessible.
"If we manage to sell all that's awarded to us in a relatively expedient amount of time, there's the possibility that tax credits that are remaining unsold from other organizations or credits that became available could be tossed our way as well," Wiese said.
With the CDFA award, Mountain Top has reached $1.1 million of the projected $2.8 million budget.
"It is fairly significant that we've gotten to a little over a million dollars and are certainly now within striking distance of the halfway mark because many of the granting organizations where we've applied for grants and so forth it is like the chicken and the egg. They are reluctant until you are over the 50 percent mark," Mason said.
Wiese referred to the initial fundraising that Mountain Top has done as the "quiet period" with a focus mostly on one-on-one meetings with potential donors. With the halfway point in sight, there can now be a shift to more public fundraising.
The first such event will be the inaugural Majestic Gala Concert, featuring the Ukrainian pianist Natalia Shevchuk and Argentine Tango dancers Fernanda Ghi and Guillermo Merl, on Sunday, Nov. 6, in the Grand Ballroom at the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods.
"Volunteer Dick Devellian is organizing the gala, and Dick is hoping to sell 400 tickets at $100 a ticket," Wiese said. "We have already collected several thousand dollars in sponsorship for that event, so all the money from tickets will go directly to the campaign."
Moving forward, Mountain Top is developing a new website (conwaymajestic.com), which, for the time being, is sparse but does offer a history of the Bolduc Block as well as information on how to donate.
"When we first took on the building, there was a ton of enthusiasm and the part that made us nervous was turning that enthusiasm into the dollars that it would take to realize the vision of the project, so it has been really nice to see," Wiese said.
For more information and reservations for the gala, visit www.mountaintopmusic.org/concert-series or call (603) 447-4737.
- Category: Organizations/Clubs