Cars drive past a vacant Main Street lot in downtown Bucksport where an apartment building was destroyed by fire in 2013. The town of Bucksport, which now owns the 1-acre parcel, has given initial support to a plan to redevelop the lot with townhouse-style housing and two commercial buildings. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

After years of trying to get a vacant lot on Main Street redeveloped, Bucksport is nearing approval of a plan that will bring townhouses and commercial buildings to the site.

The property has sat dormant for a decade after a fire destroyed an apartment building there in 2013. The following year the town paid $249,999 to buy that property and three abutting lots so it could determine how they would be redeveloped, according to Rich Rotella, the town’s economic development director.

Since then, to try to attract developers, the town has removed all buildings and debris from the site and has leveled much of the lot, leaving a slope along the hillside on the back property line. A number of redevelopment proposals have cropped up over the years but none were deemed financially viable either by the town or by local banks, he said.

But now Ellsworth-based Statewide Property Management has submitted a proposal to the town to construct residential and commercial buildings on the one-acre lot. Four townhouse-style duplex buildings, with eight total high-end market rate rental units — each with a basement garage — would be built along the back property line into the sloping hillside. Two one-story commercial buildings for housing stores or offices would be built closer at Main Street at the east and west ends of the property.

There would be 28 parking spaces, not including the residential garages. Patrick Kane, project coordinator for Statewide, told town officials the residential units would each carry year-long leases and would not be used as vacation rentals.

He said some local business owners, whom he did not identify, have expressed preliminary interest in renting the commercial spaces.

“Maybe we can spur some new growth and give you a diamond on Main Street to attract other potential businesses or homes here,” Kane told the council.

Some members of the council said they were hoping that the lot might be redeveloped to be fully commercial, but they nonetheless are optimistic about Statewide’s plan.

Councilor Ed Rankin said he doesn’t think the town will get any better proposals and that the town should pick a proposal and move on.

“I don’t see it going full commercial,” Rankin told Kane. “I think your option is the best option I’ve seen.”

The council is expected to make a final decision on Statewide’s proposal when it meets on Thursday, March 23. If the council formally endorses Statewide’s plan, the town would sell the property to Statewide, Rotella said.

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....