SOUTH PORTLAND – Since the news broke of the impending departure of Spurwink Services from the former Roosevelt Elementary, which it has leased since 1985, South Portland City Manager Jim Gailey says he has shown the 1927 brick schoolhouse five times to “at least 15” potential buyers.

On April 22, the City Council got its chance to tour the three-story building, preparatory to a public sale.

“It’s my goal, and hopefully the goal of the council, that we move on this building and liquidate it so that we don’t have to carry it through another heating season, because it is pretty costly to heat,” said Gailey.

Prospective buyers have included medical offices, “two or three schools,” a senior living center and “a lot of interest in residential condos,” said Gailey.

However, the old school building, located at 317 Pine St., is smack in the middle of a “Residential – A” zone. That limits residential density to four housing units per acre, or seven total given the 1.74-acre lot on which the school sits.

“You can see by the size of the building that it just isn’t marketable at seven units,” Mayor Tom Blake told his fellow councilors during the tour. “So, one of our goals here this evening is for us to determine what we think would bring in maximum dollars, but at something that would also be compatible with the neighborhood, because we certainly have to keep them in mind.”

One possibility, said Blake, is for the council to create a “conditional zone” expanding residential density on the Roosevelt lot, to make the property more attractive to developers. According to Gailey, the expanse of available parking on the lot means density limits could be boosted enough to allow a new owner to expand the building on the back end, although, he added, the city will likely try to retain a fac?ade easement to protect the historic value of the front, facing Pine Street.

The council could begin deliberations on the building as soon as its May 6 meeting, which could include an executive session for review of offers already on the table, as well as new report of the market value of the 13,000-square-foot building. It is assessed by the city at $738,300, according to city’s online database.

If the executive session does not happen at the May 6 meeting, it will certainly happen at the next workshop session on May 13, when the council will take up the zoning question.

“Knowing what the council would accept, and given a direction on the density issue, we could move ahead simultaneously on both the zoning and getting the paperwork ready to put it out for sale,” said Gailey. “I hope to have it bid out by, at the latest, the first week of June.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.