May 22, 2013

Mortgage lender buys Westbrook land previously destined for mall

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Sixty-one acres of undeveloped land in Westbrook that was envisioned as the site of a high-end shopping center was sold at a foreclosure auction Wednesday for $1.2 million.

click image to enlarge

Jason Snyder, who hoped to develop a mixed-use commercial center on his family's property in Westbrook, was outbid by his lender for the property at an auction Wednesday.

2008 Press Herald File Photo / John Patriquin

The buyer plans to put the property right back on the market.

"It's probably the prime large piece left in the area," said Mark Malone, broker for the new landowner, Kimco Capital Corp.

Kimco Capital was the mortgage lender on the property. On Wednesday, it outbid Jason Snyder, the developer who proposed the retail and recreational complex on what had been his family's land.

Snyder's company, 500 Westbrook LLC, owed Kimco Capital $1.9 million in mortgage and interest payments. The lender's winning bid was equal to the principal amount of the mortgage. Snyder's final offer at the auction was $610,000.

Malone said he believes the property is worth about $3 million and he expects it to generate a lot of interest.

Over the past 10 years, he said, a few developers have wanted to build large projects there, including schools, medical offices, stores, hotels and restaurants.

But, Malone said, Snyder was determined to realize his vision for Stroudwater Place.

City officials spent several months in 2008 developing a contract zone that would have allowed Snyder to build the project but required public amenities including an ice skating rink and a farmers market.

Malone said Wednesday that those requirements "are really burdensome on a property," and the zoning will have to be changed before a new project can be proposed.

He said he could see retail, office and residential development there, but the project probably won't look like what was proposed by Snyder. "I don't see it as a large-scale mall or anything like that."

Malone said he plans to contact prospective buyers who have been interested in the land in the past.

According to Kimco Capital's attorney Lawrence Clough, one potential developer is Ben Devine, who bid on the property at Wednesday's auction at the Portland office of Clough's law firm, Jensen Baird Gardner & Henry. Devine, who would not comment on his interest after the auction, made a final offer of $605,000.

Snyder, too, had little to say after the sale.

"Obviously, I got outbid," he said.

The property, which is next to Snyder's home, was among several parcels near the Westbrook-Portland line that were purchased a half-century ago by his father, the late Arthur Snyder, an early developer of Portland's Old Port.

Snyder has said that losing the land has been "devastating."

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

lbridgers@mainetoday.com

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