Historic 'Coal Pocket' property for sale in downtown Bath

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BATH — The historic, vacant Commercial Street property known as the “Coal Pocket” is for sale for nearly $1.5 million.

The 4.6-acre waterfront parcel has about 1,000 feet of Kennebec River access, according to the CB Richard Ellis real estate listing. The 133 Commercial St. property also has Front Street frontage.

The property is also being offered as two 2.3-acre lots, for $750,000 each.

City Planner Jim Upham said the lot has Downtown Commercial zoning and is open to retail, office and residential uses, “or all three (together), and that seems like what might be appropriate. A mixed-use, downtown-type development there.”

The David Mahoney Revocable Trust of 1999, based in New Hampshire, owns the property. The listing’s broker, Andy Nelson, said Wednesday that the ownership also favors a mixed-use development, and that the size of the site lends itself to that kind of project.

“They favor whatever will be good for Bath,” he said. “At the end of the day, they want a development that the city can be happy with.”

Nelson noted that it is rare to find a property that combines deep-water frontage with downtown exposure, while also having a section in “a very nice residential setting.”

In the late 1990s the Coal Pocket was where the segments were cast for the Sagadahoc Bridge, Upham said. In the 19th century a coal gasification plant operated on the property, and the gas was used for heating and cooking and to illuminate street lights.

The coal ash was left behind on primarily the northern end of the site. The Mahoney trust – named for the late David Mahoney – received city approval in 2007 to clean the site, and Central Maine Power Co. paid for the cleanup. CMP was the latest in a line of successors to the Bath & Brunswick Power & Light Co., which had run the plant.

Upham expressed both support for development of the lot and a desire to work with a future owner.

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

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.