A 5.6-acre property that once was the site of a sardine cannery on the Kennebec River in Bath has been put up for sale by its owner, a former Republican candidate for governor.

Bruce Poliquin, who ran for his party’s nomination earlier this year, announced this week that he is trying to sell the former Stinson Seafood cannery in Bath’s North End for $2.5 million.

His decision to sell the property means that Poliquin has given up his dream of converting the site into a mixed-used development with townhouse condominiums, a restaurant, shops and a marina.

The city rejected Poliquin’s effort to have the site rezoned from marine business to accommodate the development he envisioned.

“The best way for me to help the state get back on track is to do everything I can to help get Paul LePage elected,” said Poliquin. “The cannery just doesn’t fit into my plans anymore.”

Poliquin is a Waterville native. LePage, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, is Waterville’s mayor.

The property at 65 Bowery St. in Bath was acquired by Dirigo Holdings LLC in 2006. Poliquin, who now lives in Georgetown, is Dirigo’s managing partner.

In May 2006, one of the largest fires in the city’s history destroyed the vacant cannery and threatened homes in an adjacent neighborhood. An investigation by local, state and federal agencies showed that the fire was set intentionally.

Franklin S. Dolliver Jr., who was 23 at the time, was arrested. He was sentenced in March 2007 to serve six years in prison.

Poliquin continued his efforts to persuade city officials to change the zoning to accommodate his development. But officials stood by Bath’s comprehensive plan, which calls for marine-related industrial and commercial uses of the area.

“We have always thought it should be used for marine business,” James Upham, the city’s director of planning and development, said Tuesday. “The sooner it can happen, the better.”

Upham said the city sees Poliquin’s plan to sell the site as positive, especially if a new business there can create jobs. The fire’s ruins have been cleared from the site. The only structure that remains is a pier.

J. Lee Nelson, an associate broker with the Fishman Realty Group in Portland, has been retained by Poliquin to market the cannery. Nelson said the site is perfectly suited to a company that relies on barges to ship goods.

He said operations such as boat building or manufacturing windmills would fit nicely. The site has 850 feet of river frontage and a deep-water pier.

“It’s a very unique property in that it is only one of three or four sites in Maine with deep-water access,” Nelson said.

Nelson said he listed the property on Monday.

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]