WESTBROOK – A public auction will be held May 22 at a Portland lawyers’ office for the 65-acre property between Stroudwater Street and Westbrook Arterial once heralded as the site of a major shopping center.

The sale was set because the developer of the project, called Stroudwater Place, could not raise the money needed to develop the site and pay back $1.9 million in mortgage debt and interest to lender Kimco Capital Corp., of New Hyde Park, N.Y.

According to a press release from Kimco’s attorney, Lawrence R. Clough, a deposit of $50,000 is needed to bid on the property and deposits of all unsuccessful bidders would be returned at the close of the auction.

Jason Snyder, the owner of both the land and the holding company, still has a right to bid on the property, as well.

On Monday, Snyder said he was not prepared to comment on whether he would bid.

Snyder said he was able to raise some money to save the project before the March deadline to pay back project lenders, but it was not enough to stave off the foreclosure auction.

Plans to build Stroudwater Place were announced in February 2008, which Snyder described as a $300 million, 1.65 million-square-foot, upscale retail and recreational development project. Chief among his backers was high-profile partner Arthur Emil of New York, known for, among other things, owning Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center in New York. Emil died in August 2010, halting the development plans.

Snyder said his father purchased the property in 1960.

A 2008 contract zone agreement approved by the City Council was the problem with getting potential financial backers, according to Snyder. The contract zone said the property could be developed in phases, but with requirements for each phase. The first requirement was for an outdoor farmers market area and a public transportation facility built at the site within two years of the first 100,000 square feet of commercial space. The second requirement called for a “central common/outdoor gathering space” before the development reached 800,000 square feet of occupied commercial space. Then, before the complex passed the 1.2 million-square-foot mark, the developer was required to build “an indoor ice skating facility, arena or similar civic facility” at the site, or provide money to help the city build and operate a similar facility elsewhere in the city.

“It’s devastating. I put about 35,000 hours into the property since 2002 and I put a lot of money into the project as well. It’s devastating all around, financially, emotionally. It’s hard to have to endure,” Snyder said.

The sale is set to begin at 10 a.m. on May 22, at the offices of Jensen Baird Gardner & Henry, 10 Free St., Portland.

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