After their daughter moved out on her own a couple of years ago, Steve and Susan Lander decided to downsize from their house in East Derry where they lived for 35 years, to one of the new units in the Benjamin Chase Mill condominium complex.

The brook side property in the old mill yard was just one of the motivating factors for the Landers, Steve said.

Although it was originally a historic woodworking mill in Derry, The Benjamin Chase Mill is now in its final phase of being converted into 36 luxury condos, which have been designed to provide community living for active adults ages 55 and up. The units are sold for individual prices that range anywhere from $234,900 to $428,876.

"We absolutely love it here, it's perfect," Steve Lander said. "We followed it since its infancy. We stayed on top of the development for almost a year, and we have been here for a little over two years. It's fantastic, absolutely fabulous. The neighbors are great and the developer has been good. The (condos) are absolutely gorgeous. It's beautiful."

Realtors Joe and Terry Scattergood are the exclusive listing agents for Chase Mill. They also own Scattergood Advertising, an agency which Joe Scattergood said gives them an advantage in the marketing efforts.

Although there has been a decline in the housing market recently, the Scattergoods have made three sales in the last six months. Joe Scattergood credits not only the word of mouth and a strong Internet presence for the recent sales, which he said brings inquiries from the border states and across the country, but also Mother Nature.

"Interest and sales spiked during the last two floods in Derry. Some residents even held flood parties during the high water in Beaver Brook when the rain stopped," Scattergood said. "Once people are here and see Beaver Brook running between the building, and the charm that it brings, it really (shows) the uniqueness of the project."

Lander said that the couple is pleased with their condo, except for the high property taxes which is the case all around. Becasue it is a 55-over complex, no one in the Mill community has children in the school system in Derry, but they are all paying for the costs of public education, he said.

"It's a great place to live other than the high property taxes," he said. "I would be delighted to stay here until I can't be on my own anymore, until the two of us can't get up the stairs, but the taxes are just ridiculous. They have to get a handle on the high property taxes."

Developers Steve Wilson and Kevin Jones, partners in Hampshire Development Corporation, were in between phase one and two of the project when the town of Derry held property re-valuations. Wilson said that when he initially got his tax bills, he, like everyone else, thought the taxes were too high. However, he feels that the people who live in the condos have come to terms with the fact that they have to pay for some services they are not getting, like providing for the local schools, because they are provided with other great state and local services that the state government provides. Wilson feels as a developer that the benefits of living in the units outweigh the high tax costs.

"In Derry, you have a very organized police and fire department, and during the building we had the floods and they were so supportive. Derry has a good school in town and a good hospital in town, and when you see the level of services the public safety and town officials provide it certainly makes it easier to see why those things cost money," Wilson said.

At the time Wilson and Jones purchased the the Chase Mill property, it was very degraded. According to Wilson,. no one had expressed an interested in taking on the costly project of rennovation and many people felt that it would eventually become a heavy burden to the town.

However, now that the Mill units are finished, the town is collecting more than $200,000 in property taxes. Also, according to Wilson, small businesses are benefiting from the 36 new couples who have disposable income.

Because the materials for the Chase Mill project were purchased early in the construction phase, Wilson said his company has largely escaped the impact of the recent spike in construction expenses.

"As developers, the cost has escalated some, but the work was done three years ago. If we started a year later we would have been in trouble, but things are going real well for us there," he said. "It doesn't hurt that the people who live there are in the fan club, they tell their friends and are real happy living there.

"My partner and I couldn't be happier with how the project has gone, with all of the customers, or with the way the town, particularly the police, fire, and inspection departments have helped us out. It has been, so far, a good love affair."

Despite the tax increase, Lander said he feels that after the market rebounds there will be no problem selling the condos at all.

"They are definitely worth every penny because they did such a nice job," Lander said.

For more information, attend the Open House every Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., or contact Terry and Joe Scattergood at 603-553-2761.

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