Sanford Springvale News

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Land Bank Seeking to Accelerate Pace of Renewal

The former Gate of Hope Holistic Center is a property of concern for the Land Bank Commission. The building has been vacant for several years and the front yard is completely overgrown.

Request for Qualifications

At the meeting of Sanford’s Land Bank Commission on Wednesday, August 17, 2022, members discussed responses that were received to a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for real estate redevelopment services in the City. The RFQ was issued so that the Land Bank can have a short list of qualified firms which will be given the first opportunity to negotiate and propose redevelopment of City-owned tax-acquired houses and vacant lots, including both infill (new construction) and rehab projects. The following companies sent letters of interest:

  • Doz-All, LLC of Greenland, NH – infill and rehab
  • Habitat for Humanity of York County – infill and rehab
  • Patco Construction of Sanford – infill and rehab
  • TPD Construction of Sanford – infill only
  • Casco Bay Cleanout Services of Westbrook – rehab only
  • RED, LLC of Sanford – rehab only

Sanford Housing Authority was also expected to apply. The application period closed August 19. The Land Bank will review the applications at its September 14 meeting and then will interview the applicants.

Dangerous Buildings

There was discussion about the next properties to take to Dangerous Building hearings. Community Development Director Ian Houseal said 23 Rankin St., 88 Lebanon St. and 9 Grove St. were high on his list due to the number of complaints received from neighbors. Becca Lapierre suggested that issues with the long-vacant home at 19 Winter St. should be addressed before the downtown reconstruction begins.

Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio agreed that downtown properties should be prioritized. She said she would like to see the Land Bank move more quickly with Dangerous Building hearings as the process works to bring properties back into the real estate market and eventual reuse. Ms. Lapierre agreed: “Some of these properties have been in this state for years…how long are we going to give people to fix them up?” she asked. City Manager Steve Buck also concurred: “It is the singular mechanism that lets us make headway,” he said.

In the past, Dangerous Building hearings have been held for three or four properties at a time, but members of the Commission agreed that it’s feasible to do five at a time now that the City has experience with the process and they move more quickly.

Code Enforcement Officer Aaron Lederer pointed out that building permits are expiring soon for the three gutted buildings at the corner of Main St. and Park St. (across from Sanford House of Pizza). If permits expire, the City may issue Notices of Violation for abandonment, because the planned rehab work has not been completed in a timely fashion.

Mr. Houseal said if the Commission members want to focus on Main St. properties, another candidate is the commercial building at 554 Main St. in Springvale (the former Gate of Hope Holistic Center). He said the former RepubliCash building next to CVS should also be addressed, as the damage from the 2019 fire was never repaired and the roof still has blue tarps on it. Mr. Lederer added that the garage in between that building and the CVS property, which was once a chainsaw sharpening shop, has a current vacant building license, but the owner is considering demolition.

There was further discussion of other vacant buildings around town. 8 York St. was recently condemned by the City and ordered vacated. 10 Lenox St. has also been ordered vacated, as well as the multifamily home at 11 Kimball St. Mr. Lederer said the Kimball St. property, which contains seven units, has received a 20-page Notice of Violation following a fire in one of the units. The tenants there have been notified that resources are available to help them, although the severe housing shortage means there are few apartments available locally.

Mayor Mastraccio asked about the vacant lot across from the International Woolen Mill that has been accumulating trash. Mr. Houseal said the Dangerous Building statute is specific to structures, but vacant land can be addressed as abandoned property. Mr. Buck reminded them that the City needs to get the opinion of legal counsel concerning the City’s liability with environmental contamination there before doing anything else.

Ultimately, Land Bank members agreed to focus on residential properties for the next round of Dangerous Building hearings, which will be held at the first City Council meeting in October. Those are expected to be 23 Rankin St., 88 Lebanon St., 9 Grove St., 8 York St. and 10 Lenox St.

Update on previously declared Dangerous Buildings:

  • The City has received reimbursement for expenses incurred with 27 Wilson St., which was demolished earlier this year.
  • The windows on the house at 38 Jackson St. will be removed prior to demolition. They contain asbestos which has to be disposed of by a licensed asbestos contractor.
  • The garage at 18 Winter St. will also be demolished.  The roof contains asbestos, same procedure as 38 Jackson St.  A pre-bid is scheduled for September 6 and more information can be found at www.sanfordmaine.org/openbids.
The former RepubliCash building across from Hannaford’s is another property of concern. The building has been vacant since it burned in 2019.

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