Historic NH drive-in to be sold for $2.5m to make way for condominiums, shops
Written by Don Himsel on .
LACONIA — The owner of the Weirs Drive-In said her iconic property is under agreement to be sold to a local developer.
Patricia Baldi, who has run the theater since 1974, said Wednesday it is time to retire and she is selling the 12-acre parcel to Al Mitchell, of Belmont.
"I'm going to be 79 in one month,"Baldi said Wednesday. "I've been working pretty hard all my life, and I think it's time to call it quits and take it easy."
Baldi ran the theater with her late husband Lawrence, who died in 2011. She had been considering selling several years ago.
Baldi said the theater will close Labor Day.
Mitchell will purchase the land for $2.5 million.
Mitchell said he plans to put in about "80 higher-end" condominiums, shops offering items such as cigars, wine and cheese as well as an event building to "dress up Motorcycle Week."
Mitchell said he wants to "enhance Motorcycle Week to take a lot of the honky tonk out of it and class it up a bit."
The work will be done in several phases over several years, he said.
Mitchell said he had been operating with a lease on the land with Baldi. She had wanted to sell the property, and he had the right of first refusal. When another offer arrived he said he had to "pull the trigger."
"We are going to develop it and take it up to another level in the Weirs," Mitchell said.
Mitchell said he now controls about 22 acres in the immediate area over several different parcels.
He said his plan will result in an offering similar to the "Church Landing-type area" in Meredith.
"I think they've done a great job there. Hats off to what they've done to Meredith," he said.
Baldi said the land value is worth more than the business.
"We're only open a couple of months during the year," she said. "It's a pretty high-taxed property."
Baldi said her son Larry will take some of the theater's equipment and build a new drive-in. Exactly where it will be built is still up in the air, but she expected it to be up and running by next season.
"My son is looking at several locations," she said.
There are three other drive-in theaters in New Hampshire.
"It's emotional. It's very sad. It's been a long run, but it's time to call it quits," Baldi said, who also owned the Colonial Theater in Laconia. "I think things are going to work out for everybody. I have wonderful customers. I'm going to miss them."