Portland land sales praised as 'milestone' for Bayside

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PORTLAND — Four pieces of city property in Bayside were sold Monday for nearly $3.9 million.

The fate of nearly 3 acres in the Redlon Park area off Stevens Avenue, meanwhile, will wait until Oct. 16 after a vote to place them in the city land bank was postponed.

“This is a milestone for Bayside by selling these properties,” Councilor David Brenerman said. “We will be creating a new, multi-use neighborhood in this portion of Bayside.”

Developers who paid $3.87 million for the city-owned land in the area bordered by Kennebec, Parris, Alder and Portland streets will add a mix of housing and commerce to the area once inhabited by various city Public Works operations.

Two more proposed sales remain, Brenerman noted, for land and buildings at 55 Portland St. and 44 Hanover St., and were discussed Tuesday by the council Economic Development Committee that he leads.

Brenerman said Sept. 28 the city redrew the property boundaries and sought new appraisals for those parcels before completing negotiations.

Proceeds from the sales are expected to defray the costs of shifting Public Works from Bayside to 212 and 250 Canco Road. The city had already sold land on Alder Street that became Bayside Bowl.

The future use for the quarter-acre parking lot at 56 Parris St. sold to Jack Foley will be at least 20 one-bedroom condominium units considered workforce housing when marketed for about $200,000 each.

The sale agreement for $175,000 contains a clause requiring Soley to begin construction within 12 months and complete the work within 30 months of closing, or the city has the option to buy the property back.

Councilors approved selling 1.25 acres and a building at 82 Hanover St. to Tom Watson of Port Properties for $2.35 million. Watson intends a mixed-use development including company offices, allowing him to convert current company offices at 104 Grant St. to 23 units of market-rate housing.

A performance clause in his agreement governs both parcels.

The buildings and land at 65 Hanover and 82 Alder were sold for $1.1 million to Barrett Made, who plans workshops and maker spaces on the nearly half acre.

Sarah Michniewicz of the Bayside Neighborhood Association praised each sale as “a very thoughtful approach,” but singled out this sale as exciting for its potential.

The last sale, of less than a quarter acre at 178 Kennebec St. for $250,000 to Ross Furman, will lead to a mixed-use building with 50 housing units of one, two and three bedrooms. Furman and partner Nathan Szanton plan to market 65 percent of those units to people earning 60 percent or less of the area median income.

Park on hold

Acceptance of the Redlon Park properties, acquired by the city mostly for unpaid taxes and seen by Parks Director Ethan Hipple as an opportunity to codify and preserve open space in the area bounded by Stevens and Brighton avenues and Capisic Street, will wait until Oct. 16.

Postponing the vote was moved by Councilor Belinda Ray, who said she wanted to be certain any options for creating affordable housing on the lands have been exhausted.

“I just want to know how closely we looked and if we need to look a little harder,” Ray said.

Neighbors who spoke at the meeting favored the transfers to the land bank, saying the acreage was already in use by people from through the city.

Economic Development Director Greg Mitchell said the tax-acquired properties have been available since 2010 with no interest, and city staff has concluded most would not be developed because they are on wetlands or ledge. 

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland city councilors approved selling four of six city-owned parcels in Bayside on Oct. 2.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.