GORHAM — No one can agree how many years – or decades – the former gas station on Main Street has been vacant. But by all accounts it’s been too long.

Finally, a proposal to tear down the rundown building, built in 1940, and replace it with a new 6,000-square-foot structure will receive a site plan review at a Planning Board meeting Monday.

“People think it’s been vacant longer than it really has because it looks so bad,” said Brenda Caldwell, a former town clerk and town councilor.

In both of her roles with the town, Caldwell said, she heard more complaints about the downtown eyesore “than anything ever.”

At the eastern entrance to Gorham village, the boarded-up building with peeling paint sits close to the road in a quarter-acre lot so overgrown the tops of the weeds can be seen above the several feet of snow that’s fallen.

Great Falls Construction, based a block away from the site, plans to purchase the lot, as well as an adjacent empty parcel owned by Hannaford Bros., which has a supermarket behind the properties, said developer Jonathan Smith.

Part of the negotiations with Hannaford include allowing access to the new building by way of the grocery store entrance – what had been a sticking point to making something happen there.

The former gas station property is owned by Loren Goodridge, who initially purchased it about 10 years ago as a new location for his Subway restaurant, now just down the street. Goodridge didn’t return calls last week.

That Subway and an Aroma Joe’s Coffee shop with a drive-through window are set to occupy half of the new building, Smith said. He plans to start marketing the remaining space soon.

Nearby business owners said Friday that Smith has a reputation for being community-oriented and building quality projects.

“It will be done right,” said Cheri McPhee, owner of Main Street salon Village Hair.

McPhee said the building is a frequent topic of conversation among her clients. “People have always talked about it,” she said.

But lately, the tone has changed from griping about the longtime blight to getting excited about its replacement, said McPhee.

Gorham Zoning Administrator David Galbraith said Great Falls plans to close on the property in April and demolish the building around the same time. He, too, could only guess that it’s been vacant at least 10 years, maybe longer.

“It’s going to be a welcome, overdue improvement to the community,” said Scott Guimond, owner of National Attachments, a heavy equipment business on nearby Mechanic Street. “It seems like it’s taken unnecessarily long.”

That’s what Caldwell constantly heard from residents and constituents.

“‘When are you going to do something about it?'” she said they’d asked her. “I think this is going to be the perfect answer.”

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