Portland poised to sell last of its Bayside properties

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PORTLAND — The final parcel of city-owned Bayside land on the market since last spring could soon have a buyer.

On March 6, the City Council Economic Development Committee unanimously recommended the full council approve the sale, at just less than $1.3 million, of 44 Hanover St. to local property owner and manager Tom Watson.

Before the 141,600-square-foot parcel is sold to Watson, its boundaries need further definition. That is anticipated to happen Thursday, March 22, when the Planning Board acts on a city request to subdivide three conjoined properties into separate lots.

Economic Development Director Greg Mitchell on March 9 said the subdivision request by the city would separate properties on either side of 44 Hanover St. that have also been sold. The new lots would contain buildings and land at 82 Hanover St. and 55 Portland St.

The 44 Hanover St. property is now used for city vehicle maintenance. Department of Public Works offices are at 55 Portland St. and the 82 Hanover St. property had been a garage and storage site.

The sales at 55 Portland St. and 82 Hanover St. cannot be closed until the property lines are approved, Mitchell said.

According to a Feb. 27 memo from Mitchell, the 44 Hanover St. building will be converted into at least 16 units of 3,500 square feet each that would be leased as “affordable/accessible to the creative economy at under $1,000/month.”

Watson has also agreed to lease 44 Hanover St. back to the city through Sept. 30, 2019, for $12,500 per month, with the city committed to paying at least $75,000. The payments would be credited against the sale price, Mitchell said.

The time frame should allow fleet services to move to the new Public Works site at 250 Canco Road.

“The drawings for the fleet building are about 90 percent complete at this point; we are hoping to go to bid for that building within the next 30 to 45 days,” city Facilities Manager Kathi Earley told the committee.

Mitchell said Watson is buying the property, appraised at $1.38 million, as is, meaning the city will not pay for any needed environmental remediation costs as part of the sales agreement. The building also once housed a dry cleaner.

If Watson sells to a nonprofit, the buyer would also be required to make a payment to the city in lieu of property taxes.

Last April, the city listed six parcels totaling about 4 acres that are bound by Portland, Parris, Kennebec and Alder streets, for sale with CBRE Boulos. The land had been used for various public works operations. All told, the sales will bring $6.5 million.

On Oct. 2, 2017, city councilors agreed to sell four parcels for a combined $3.87 million. On Jan. 3, the $1.4 million sale of 55 Portland St. was approved. In 2015, the city sold land and a building at 71 Hanover to the owners of Bayside Bowl, which expanded into the site last year.

All sale proceeds are intended to fund the shift of Public Works to the site of the former Pepsi Cola distribution plant at 250 Canco Road.

Watson bought the 82 Hanover St. building and land for $2.35 million as part of the four-parcel sale approved last fall, with the intent of shifting his Port Property Management offices from 104 Grant St. to Bayside. Watson will then convert the Grant Street property into 23 housing units.

When bids were accepted by the city last summer, 44 Hanover St. looked as though it would be sold to a group that included local attorney Harold Pachios. The buyers also intended on subdividing the building into spaces for light industrial or commercial use.

At the March 6 meeting, Mitchell said city staff was directed by Economic Development Committee members to seek more continuity of ownership in the adjoining parcels, so Watson became the buyer for 44 Hanover St.

The offices at 55 Portland St. will continue to be used as such, while housing has been planned for the land at 65 Parris St. and on Kennebec Street.

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

The building that services Portland municipal vehicles at 44 Hanover St. is expected to soon be sold to Tom Watson for around $1.3 million. It is the last of six Bayside parcels to be sold by the city.

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.