PORTLAND — Two parcels of waterfront property along the Fore River in Portland just hit the real estate market.

The asking price? There isn’t one.

“There’s no listed price,” said Alec O’Meara, media relations manager for New Hampshire-based Unitil Corporation, the properties’ owner. “It’s extremely negotiable.”

O’Meara said the land is contaminated with coal tar, and that the new owner will likely need to spend several million dollars to clean up the tar or contain it.

“It needs to be dealt with. You can remove (coal tar) through excavation, or you can cap it and buttress the land to make sure it doesn’t seep into the ocean,” he said.

Unitil acquired the property in 2008 with the purchase of Northeast Utilities. From the 1800s to 1965, the property was the site of a coal gas manufacturing plant.


O’Meara said roughly half the cleanup has been completed. He said the remaining work could be finished by the end of the year, assuming the buyer has adequate financial resources.

Both plots are between Commercial Street and the Fore River.

One, which runs 1,000 feet along the river, includes 2.5 acres of uplands, 2.5 acres of submerged land and a 3-foot-wide pier that juts 33 feet into the river. The lot was valued earlier this year at $551,600, according to Portland’s assessor’s office.

The other parcel, valued at roughly $1.02 million, is 3.98-acre site that includes two buildings, propane tanks and a railroad spur.

According to data from the tax assessor’s office, combined 2012 taxes on the properties total nearly $29,000.

Frank O’Connor, a partner at The Dunham Group, the commercial real estate broker selling the land, said he has received many calls from interested buyers, but O’Meara said there have been no offers.


O’Meara said he expects the property will remain an industrial site if it sells, but it’s unclear what type of business might be interested.

Portland’s economic development department did not return calls or emails requesting comment.

A spokeswoman for Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection said no one was available to comment Tuesday afternoon.

Charlie Poole, whose family owns nearby Union Wharf, said he has not heard of any interest in the property by marine companies.

He said marine development can be prohibitively expensive, noting that replacing a single piling on the wharf can cost several thousand dollars.

“Finding something that will be able to justify the expenses, I think, will be hard,” he said.


Staff Writer Jonathan Hemmerdinger can be contacted at 791-6316 or at: jhemmerdinger@mainetoday.com


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