20210526-LOC-SQUAREAPTS

Dorrie Masten of Swanzey sold 1-3 Central Square in downtown Keene to a Salem-based real estate firm in April.

A prominent apartment block in downtown Keene is under new ownership, as former owner Dorrie Masten says she may also offload her other residential and commercial properties in the city.

Masten, of Swanzey, sold 1-3 Central Square to the Salem-based real estate firm Commonwealth Collective last month for $1.8 million, according to property records.

She had owned the building — which has 25 rental units and houses Rock, Paper, Scissors hair salon — since 2004, the records show.

Founded in 2016, the Commonwealth Collective owns several apartment buildings in Manchester and also has residential properties in Maine, co-owner Michael Ketchen said Tuesday. The company manages a combined 44 units at two of its Manchester properties, its website states, as well as a third building of unspecified size in that city.

The Central Square property is the Commonwealth Collective’s first in Keene, according to Ketchen, a former teacher who started the company with his wife, Hannah.

Ketchen said he wasn’t very familiar with the Elm City before visiting to see the Central Square apartments, adding that he was surprised to find that it isn’t simply a college town but also has a lot of commercial activity.

“I took a ride up, and I kind of fell in love,” he said. “It’s everything we like … You get downtown, and you start to see the culture and everything going on.”

The Commonwealth Collective plans to modernize 1-3 Central Square, which Ketchen said will include installing a keyless entry system for residents, repainting the halls and updating its flooring and lighting. The company also wants to make cosmetic changes to the residential units — most of which are studios — and install new appliances, though he said that project could take a few years.

Ketchen said his firm doesn’t plan to replace any of the current residents and would like to keep Rock, Paper, Scissors in its first-floor space.

“We’re trying to maintain the tenant base in the building,” he said. “We like the people.”

Explaining that Ketchen had contacted her initially about acquiring 1-3 Central Square, Masten said she thinks the Commonwealth Collective will manage the building well and could look to expand its local operations.

“They’re great folks,” she said. “... I think they’re going to do well in Keene.”

After the sale, Masten said she still owns approximately 75 rental units in Keene, which include apartments on the other side of Central Square and on Vernon Street, as well as the Beaver Brook Apartments on Washington Street. Her holdings also include commercial units on the square that house the restaurants Fritz and The Pour House and also Centerfold Laundry on Vernon Street. (She owns the latter two businesses, in addition to their real estate.)

That real estate portfolio may continue to shrink, however, as Masten said she is thinking about selling other properties because she wants to spend more time with her family now that her daughter, Alexandria Lesser, is married and expecting her second child.

Masten said health issues in recent years have also influenced her decision and added that she would like to let Lesser, a Keene resident who helps manage her properties, focus on her children.

“Her plate is a little full, so she would like to lessen the load,” she said.

Masten already has a deal in place for one of her properties, she said Tuesday, though she declined to identify the specific building until that transaction is finalized. Someone has also expressed interest in her entire real estate portfolio — an offer that she said she will consider.

“If the money is right, then the timing is right for me,” she said.

Caleb Symons can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1420, or csymons@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @CalebSymonsKS.