Portland looks to Canco Road for new operations center

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PORTLAND — Some city departments and services could be consolidated at 212 Canco Road over the next five years if councilors agree to a lease-purchase agreement and lease payments for the next three years.

Approval of a $2.9 million sales agreement to be executed by 2018 and three-year lease payments totalling $230,000 through 2017 will require two City Council votes, with the first expected on March 17.

As outlined by city Economic Development Director Greg Mitchell, the city would lease and then buy the building formerly occupied by heating and appliance distributors Nelson and Small.

The company’s businesses were sold last year, although the Nelson family still owns the property.

Last fall, councilors approved spending up to $3.05 million for a site to consolidate city services and departments. The Fire Department already leases 19,000 square feet of the building, Mitchell said, which helped his department learn the rest of the 69,000 square feet was available.

Mitchell suggested proceeds from land sales on Somerset Street or Riverside Drive could fund lease payments. The sale of 2.3 acres of city-owned land for the Midtown project on Somerset Street is being contested in Cumberland County Superior Court.

But Mitchell said the sale of a 3-acre parcel on Riverside Street to Suburban Propane for $285,000 is expected to close this year. The sale allows the company to move from Thompson’s Point.

There are also two commercial tenants holding leases in the Nelson building, but the city Traffic and City Trades divisions can move into available maintenance space if the lease is approved by councilors, Mitchell said.

After the building is owned by the city, it would also become home to the Emergency Operations Center, School Trades Division, playground and irrigation crews, and recreation and public assembly staff.

The Traffic and City Trades divisions are now at 65 Hanover St. The School Trades and Emergency Operations Center are at Portland Arts and Technology High School on Allen Avenue. The playground and irrigation crews are at 90 Anderson St., and other divisions now work at the Portland Expo and Cummings Center.

Valued by the city at $3 million, the building and 4.2 acres of land were appraised at $2.74 million. Mitchell said the appraisal was low because of below-market rate leases.

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

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.