Laconia development team includes big-name firms – and a business owner who went bankrupt

By: - December 20, 2022 12:02 am
aerial of Lakes Region prison, Laconia

The state's effort to sell the former Laconia State School for $21.5 million have been slowed by questions about development team. (Screenshot of CBRE marketing materials)

This story was updated Dec. 20, 2022 at 12:40 p.m. to include the development team’s conversation with Laconia city officials and clarify that team’s spokesman believed the state had provided background on the team to executive councilors.

Two weeks after questions about the state’s chosen buyer for the 220-acre former Laconia State School site halted the $21.5 million deal, the buyer’s business partners have agreed to publicly identify themselves, share funding progress, and provide their credentials for pulling off a massive $500 million development.

The team includes an experienced construction company, local law practice, and architect and engineering firms. Also on the team is Jonathan McCoy, who will lead development of the project’s 600 senior and assisted living units. Court records show that McCoy lost a previous senior living facility he owned and operated in a 2017 bankruptcy case. The court-appointed trustee alleged McCoy had used more than $230,000 of the facility’s money to cover personal expenses, including golf club fees and nearly $148,000 in taxes, according to court documents. 

McCoy settled the case for $11,000 in 2020. In the settlement document, the court-appointed trustee, attorney Olga Gordon, told the court she didn’t believe she would be able to collect more. “Indeed, based on the (McCoy’s) financial disclosures, the trustee has determined that any judgment she obtains against (McCoy) will likely go unsatisfied,” she wrote in a court document.

In an email Monday night, McCoy denied the trustee’s allegations and said they were never proven. “In fact, when the company’s financial stress became evident to me in early 2016, I immediately reduced my guaranteed payments by approximately 30% and cancelled the golf club membership, which was permitted and used for business purposes,” he wrote.

McCoy said he used the money for legitimate company expenses or reimbursements for company expenses he had paid for personally. He said he worked with Gordon to provide receipts and back up information to support these expenses. Gordon, who did not return a message, told the court that McCoy had failed to provide documents or information to show the payments were legitimate business expenses.

Executive councilors were on track to approve the $21.5 million offer for the Laconia property two weeks ago. Instead, councilors tabled it after Laconia city officials raised concerns based on the Bulletin’s reporting of the financial history and limited experience of the only identified buyer, Robynne Alexander of Manchester. The council is scheduled to take up Alexander’s offer again Wednesday.

Alexander has little large-scale development experience and is being sued by an investor on a two-building Manchester project that is three years behind schedule. The city has placed multiple liens on her Manchester properties; she has paid off most but still owes $2,700.

Her proposed Legacy at Laconia development, which is to have 1,300 housing units, a 250-room hotel, 1,000 person conference center, retail, and medical facilities, would be her largest project, she told the Bulletin in early December. The proposed plan is in line with what Laconia and the Lakeshore Redevelopment Planning Commission concluded was the best use of the property. But they said they were not asked to vet her experience or financial wherewithal or provided information to do so. 

Shortly after executive councilors tabled Alexander’s offer, the development team hired Montagne Powers, a Manchester communications firm, to take the lead on addressing the questions that stalled the deal. 

Scott Tranchemontagne, a partner at the firm, said Monday team members had additional conversations with Laconia city officials. He said they assured city officials they would accommodate the city’s requests to provide parking and water access for a city-owned recreation field adjacent to the property. Tranchemontagne said he has not provided additional information about the team to executive councilors but believed the state had done so.

Tranchemontagne shared new information about the team and project with the Bulletin in an email and interview Monday. He said the team has between $100 million and $150 million in “soft commitments,” from people who have shown interest in the project and in investing in it. 

He said the first phase of the project, expected to take about two years, would involve working with the city of Laconia on permitting and identifying infrastructure needs; replacing water and sewer systems, an estimated $20 million expense; demolishing the site’s existing buildings that are beyond repair; and starting construction on single family homes, duplexes, and triplexes. Some would be workforce housing, Tranchemontagne said.

He also identified Alexander’s six other partners and shared details he said shows they are capable of a large-scale project like Legacy at Laconia. He said Alexander is not the lead developer and that the corporate structure is still being finalized.

“To analyze the qualifications of the Legacy group, one needs to look at all of the members and their varied sets of experience, as well as the roles they will play,” he said.

TFMoran in Bedford, which has worked on Woodmont Commons, an 80-square-acre mixed-use development in Londonderry and college projects, will provide engineering services. 

North & South Construction Services of Newington, Alexander’s partner on the Manchester redevelopment, will help build the project. The company previously worked on a $52 million project at the University of Massachusetts and Portwalk, a mixed-use development in Portsmouth that has multiple hotels, restaurants, and residences.

Interiors East of Londonderry will provide architectural planning and design.

Kristy Lacroix, owner of Wheelchair Escapes, will work on the tourist aspects of the site, using her experience facilitating vacations and travel for people with disabilities and their families.

“What she’s bringing is the vision for the resort, which is going to be more than just handicap accessible,” Tranchemontagne said. “This resort will be developed for the disabled community at every step.”

Hinkley Allen, a Manchester and Boston law firm, is providing legal counsel.

Alexander, McCoy, and Pete Johnson, chief executive officer at North & South Construction Services, are partners on another venture, Vibrant Village Concepts. The company’s website describes it as “an innovative real estate development company that creates dynamic, mixed-use multigenerational communities.”  The company lists Interiors East and Infinite Equities Group, another of Alexanders’ businesses, as partners.

Tranchemontagne identified McCoy, who will be a co-owner, as someone who has more than 35 years in project development, including senior living communities. Tranchemontagne, who joined the project about 10 days ago, said he was not aware that McCoy’s company, Sanctuary Care in Rye, had filed for bankruptcy or of the trustee’s allegations of misuse of company money.

McCoy registered Sanctuary Care, a residential, memory care, and assisted living facility, in 2007. He owned 68 percent of the company when he and a partner filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2017; the case was later converted to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Three years prior to filing for bankruptcy, McCoy registered another business in New Hampshire, Family CareSpace, according to the Secretary of Sate’s business filings. The company provides a software platform that allows family members to get real-time updates on loved ones living in senior and assisted care facilities or at home. The company was listed as a creditor in the bankruptcy case. McCoy remains president of Family CareSpace.

In their court filing, McCoy and his business partner reported about $5 million in assets, nearly all of it in real estate, and $16 million in debt. Creditors included the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, which had a $3.6 million claim, and a Maine bank, whose claim totaled about $7.7 million, according to court records. The case was closed in February 2021.

Gordon, the trustee, filed a separate case against McCoy in 2018 to recover $234,000 she said McCoy had taken from Sanctuary Care for his personal use. 

Gordon told the District of New Hampshire bankruptcy court that McCoy paid about $8,000 to Golf Club of New England; gave himself $22,000 from one company bank account; withdrew or spent about $31,000 from another company bank account; and paid about $25,000 of personal credit card fees and $148,000 in tax debt.

The payments were made between 2015 and 2017, according to a court document. Gordon told the court that McCoy had failed to provide documents or information to show the payments were legitimate business expenses. She said in 2018 that McCoy denied any liability. 

“(McCoy) asserted that even if the trustee obtained a judgment against him, he had no assets to satisfy the judgment,” Gordon wrote. “To support his contention, (McCoy)  provided the trustee copies of his most recent tax return and a personal financial affidavit showing that he had limited income and does not own assets that would be available to satisfy a judgment.” 

They settled the case for $11,000 in 2020.

“In retrospect, I may have done some things differently,” McCoy wrote in an email. “But I strongly disagree with the assertion that I received payments with no reasonable equivalent value for the company. My focus is and continues to be on improving the lives of seniors and those that serve them. I am proud to have developed the vision for Sanctuary Care and the excellent facility we built, which is still operating under different ownership.  I strive to bring positive change to the senior living market.”

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.

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