December 20, 2012

Westbrook development site may be auctioned

Jason Snyder, the developer who once pitched a high-end retail and recreational development for the 61-acre site, may lose the land if his company can't pay its mortgage within the next three months.

By Leslie Bridgers
Staff Writer

The 61-acre property in Westbrook that once was envisioned as the site for a high-end retail and recreational development will be sold at auction if the landowner can’t pay its mortgage within the next three months.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has rejected an appeal by the development company, 500 Westbrook LLC, which sought to overturn the foreclosure judgment handed down last year by a judge in Cumberland County Superior Court.

The Supreme Court ruled Dec. 6 in favor of Kimco Capital Corp., the lender that says 500 Westbrook LLC owes $1.9 million in mortgage and interest.

Michael Nelson, an attorney for Kimco, didn’t return a call Tuesday seeking comment.

The development company has until Thursday to file a motion to reconsider, but its attorney, Richard Olson, said it won’t file.

That will begin a 90-day countdown before Kimco can publish a public notice of sale. The auction would have to happen within 30 days of the notice’s publication, Olson said.

But the developer hasn’t given up on paying its debt first.

“I have been working on this full time and will continue to do so,” Jason Snyder, manager and majority owner of 500 Westbrook LLC, said in an email Tuesday.

Snyder proposed Stroudwater Place in 2008 as a high-end shopping center that would be bigger than the Maine Mall and bring 5,000 jobs to the city.

At well-attended public meetings over several months, city officials crafted contract zoning for the 61-acre site to ensure that the developer – or any subsequent owner of the land between Stroudwater Street and Westbrook Arterial – could build only something similar to what was proposed.

Among the allowed uses of the site are restaurants, retail, recreational facilities, theaters, hotels, fairgrounds, farmers markets and outdoor performing arts venues.

Snyder joined with heavy hitters to sell the project to the city. His partner, Arthur Emil, owned the Windows on the World restaurant atop the World Trade Center. Emil died in 2010.

Thompson Design Group of Boston, which redeveloped Faneuil Hall, presented renderings of what the shopping center could look like.

Maryland-based Basile Baumann Prost Cole & Associates did a study to show the market could support the venue.

Now those companies are listed in Kimco’s complaint because they have liens on the property that are subordinate to that of the mortgage holder.

Snyder never presented a site plan to the Westbrook Planning Board.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

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