PORTLAND – Roxanne Quimby is selling the 111-year-old brick building she once envisioned as the heart of an urban artists’ colony.

The well-known philanthropist bought the building at 660 Congress St. in early 2009 and announced plans to renovate it and create an artists-in-residency program. It was later damaged by arson and was subsequently gutted.

Now it’s on the market for $295,000, less than the $350,000 that Quimby paid, said Tom Moulton, a broker with NAI/The Dunham Group.

Quimby, co-founder of the Burt’s Bee’s line of personal care products, moved her colony down Congress Street, to the site of the former Roma Restaurant, where the Quimby Colony is housing culinary and fashion artists.

Quimby’s project at 660 Congress St. suffered a series of setbacks, including a delay in the renovation because of the fire, a long appeal of a hefty city fee for a fund for replacement housing, and unexpected restrictions on design work because of historic-preservation rules.

Quimby, who could not be reached for comment, had planned to set up studio and gallery space for four to six artists, with housing nearby. Because the project would have displaced seven apartments in the Queen Anne Victorian building, the city prepared to assess a fee of $406,0000 — $58,000 per unit — to go into a fund that’s used to help finance low-income housing projects.

Quimby appealed, and the City Council eventually deemed her development a “project of special merit,” exempt from the fee.

In the middle of a $1 million restoration, a fire set by an intruder damaged the building’s interior. And Quimby’s plan to alter windows on the first floor was rejected by the city’s Historic Preservation Board.

“It was just one challenge after another,” said City Councilor David Marshall, an artist whose district includes both of Quimby’s properties.

At some point, Quimby’s attention moved down the street and the original building sat vacant, Marshall said.

“It wasn’t a good match in the end,” he said.

What were setbacks for Quimby might make the building attractive to others, Moulton said. The interior demolition is done, he said, and a new owner would have guidance from the preservation board on what would be acceptable.

The building is ideal for first-floor retail use, Moulton said, with residential units upstairs.

A developer, he said, could probably buy the building and renovate it for less than $1 million, putting it in the category of a mid-sized project.

Moulton said he has already received inquiries about the property, which went on the market this week.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

emurphy@pressherald.com