Bath council OKs sale of Huse School

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BATH — A longtime city-owned property is likely going back on the tax rolls.

In a meeting Wednesday that ran about 10 minutes, the City Council unanimously approved the $145,000 sale of the John E.L. Huse Memorial School, which the Regional School Unit 1 central office occupied until 2010.

The 39 Andrews Road building, built in 1941 with an addition in 1949, has more than 33,000 square feet of space. The structure, in Bath’s Commercial 2 zone, has always been owned by city, according to City Manager Bill Giroux.

Bath is selling the property to Jeremiah Goudreau and James Hannan, who propose to develop it for senior assisted living, the manager said.

“These two gentlemen have been interested in it for several months, and they have a history of converting schools into senior housing, assisted living types of facilities,” Giroux said, adding that the buyers have “a good reputation.”

A professional appraisal was conducted of the Huse School, Giroux said, although he did not disclose the property’s appraised value. The city put it on the market for $190,000 before dropping the price to $175,000, he added.

The tentative closing date for the sale is June 30. Goudreau and Hannan will probably need Planning Board approval for their project, Giroux said.

Planning Director Andrew Deci noted in a July 2010 memo that the building’s size and layout are ideal for use by one or more nonresidential tenants, and that it could also be made into a multi-family residential property, although that would require layout and infrastructure changes.

“This is the elementary school that I went to, and I’m glad to see that someone’s going to come in and hopefully take good care of the building,” Council Chairwoman Mari Eosco said.

The sale last year of another city-owned building, the Mid Coast Center for Higher Education, triggered sharp criticism from several residents, who claimed the city failed to practice due diligence when it set the sale price, and did not sell the parcel in an appropriate way.

The City Council hired a former Maine Superior Court judge to investigate that process, and he concluded that the city should have been more transparent about the sale, but that there was no corruption.

Developer Robert Smith, who purchased the 9 Park St. property for $799,000, now would like the building to house market rate apartments.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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The Bath City Council voted Wednesday to sell the John E.L. Huse Memorial School, formerly occupied by the Regional School Unit 1 central office, to developers proposing to renovate the 63-year-old building for senior assisted living.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.