The city received just two proposals for Saccarappa Park – one to build a 30,000-square-foot office building and one to keep it as a park.

One proposal came from Brown Redevelopment Corp. of Scarborough. The proposal, signed by Principal Terry Brown, called for a 30,000 square foot building that would house stores, medical offices and condominiums.

The building and adjoining parking lot would occupy 65 percent of the land. The remaining 35 percent of the land would be preserved as public open space. The 35 percent figure is slightly below the 40 percent figure recommended by the mayor’s economic development committee when it was coming up with a plan for the park.

Brown offered to pay $1 for the property, explaining on Tuesday that he offered a low monetary figure because he planned on restoring and maintaining a portion of the land as public open space. “Rather than offer monetary value for the land, we thought we’d do it with improvements,” he said. Brown did not have an exact plan for the scope of the improvements.

Economic and Community Development Director Erik Carson said sometimes developers would offer a low price for the land, to be offset by increased taxes from the eventual development. “Very often projects have a $1 figure for the property because they are going to spend upwards of $5 to $10 million in development,” said Carson.

The second proposal offered slightly more cash to the city, but did nothing to develop the land. Former American Journal Editor Harry Foote and his wife, Anne, offered the city $1,000 for the land, with the provision that if they were awarded the land, the Footes would immediately give it back to the city under the condition it remain a park for 100 years.

Foote’s offer is similar to one that he made in 2003 when the city was considering a proposal from a group led by former Mayor Ken Lefebvre to erect a 48,000 square foot office building on the park. At that time, Foote offered $10,000 for the park, and also pledged to return it to the city to be used as a park for 100 years.

Lefebvre’s group had proposed purchasing the land for $150,000 to $180,000 and building a four-story office building on the site. The proposal also called for a restaurant on the first floor of the building. Lefebvre said the deal fell through after his group decided to pull out of the project after it became clear it did not have the support on the City Council to pass.

Lefebvre said his group had no interest in reviving their proposal. “I wouldn’t consider it,” he said. “We went through enough.”

Since then, the park has been used as a staging area for the construction of the boardwalk along the river, and is now an open grassy field with no trees.

On Tuesday, Foote said he reduced his offer because of the changes the city has made to the land since 2003. “There was a park there when we offered $10,000 and there isn’t one there now,” he said. “The cost of restoring what they destroyed is reflected in our price.”

Carson said he was expecting to receive at least one more proposal on Monday. He declined to name the company in question, and he did not know the reason why they elected not to submit a proposal for this project. He speculated that some developers might have decided not to make a proposal because they were not willing to meet the city’s request for a development that left about 40 percent of the land as open space.

Carson said the mayor’s economic development committee would review the two proposals at its regular public meeting tonight (Aug. 3) at 7 p.m. in the upstairs conference room at City Hall. He said he expected the City Council’s economic development committee would also schedule a meeting in the near future to review the proposals as well.


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