Set on a hill, a property at the crossroads of Bucksport has been waiting for the right buyer for seven years. The town envisions a project that brings both more storefronts and more housing to the area.
But so far, the right buyer hasn’t emerged.
Now, Bucksport is hoping a ready-made plan will spur someone to sign on the dotted line for the municipally-owned 1.1-acre property at 27 Main St.
In an assessment released in December, a consultant for Forest Opportunity Roadmap drew up plans for 11 buildings on the property – three along Main Street with storefronts on the ground floor and apartments up above plus eight more residential buildings at the back of the site.
In all, the assessment proposes to have 24 units between the front and back buildings, which are mocked up to replicate a design of a development in Los Angeles.
Robert O’Brien, the program director for the Maine Development Foundation, one of the groups involved with the roadmap, said that with markets tight, many developers will only go to places where they know they have a rock solid moneymaker. Any potential project that requires initial legwork to tease out its viability is seen as a potential waste of investment.
O’Brien’s organization brings on consultants to do that work and come up with plans they happily will share with developers.
Town officials are waiting to see if it can produce any serious buyers.
“I hope it spurs some sort of development here,” Bucksport Town Manager Susan Lessard said.
The property is one of the last key pieces in a long-running revitalization of the former mill town. Bucksport bought the property in 2014 after the existing apartment buildings at the site were badly damaged in a fire. Those buildings were razed and the property has been for sale ever since.
There have been several ideas bandied about, including restaurants and other developments, but none really gained much steam.
“The proposals never got from ‘what do you think?’ to an actual written proposal,” Lessard said.
It’s not clear what exactly is holding it back.
Lessard said it wasn’t the price of the land. It’s being marketed at $110,000 and the town is open to negotiating to attract the right developer. Utilities are all nearby, including high speed internet.
It’s not that there is a lack of hunger for business space in the old mill town, either, according to Rich Rotella, the town’s community and economic development director.
He’s had several people inquire about a place to open their businesses, though they are mostly looking to rent in existing buildings, not build their own.
It is slightly disconnected from the rest of downtown, sitting in a sort of gap before the shops on Main Street start in earnest. But if a developer were to go with roadmap’s ready-made plan, it could become a destination in of itself.
“It’s got a lot going for it,” Rotella said. “It’s just one site that’s a little different.”