SOUTH PORTLAND — The vacant, former Maine National Guard Armory is a step closer to becoming a functional, multi-use business center.

With little discussion Monday night, the City Council unanimously approved rezoning the 2.74-acre parcel from Residential District A zone to Conditional Armory Zone (CAZ).

The request by Priority Real Estate Group to rezone the parcel was approved by the Planning Board March 10.

The nearly 75-year-old armory at 682 Broadway was purchased by the city in April 2006 for $650,000 from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. 

Last November, the city approved the sale to Priority for $700,000. The deal included a requirement that the real estate group get approval for the rezoning and the general project proposal before the purchase is finalized. 

The zone change will allow the transformation of the armory into a gas station, with a convenience store and cafe on the first floor, and space on the second floor for a retail, offices, and meeting space for local organizations. 

The site will also include two electric vehicle charging stations.

“We’re working with a company now, exploring two fast-charging electric stations. If not, they’ll be two of the slower charging stations,” said David Latulippe, vice president of Topsham-based Priority.  

Latulippe and his team have been commended throughout the application process by councilors and Planning Board members for their intention to preserve the historical integrity of the building and for working with members of the community to quell reservations.

“What we really want to do is celebrate this building, preserve it, bring it back to life,” Latulippe said March 10. 

Planning Board member Linda Boudreau told Latulippe at that meeting, “I’m pleased with the effort to accommodate the sentimentality that the city has for this building … and to make use out of it.”

At Monday’s meeting, Mayor Linda Cohen said, “I’ve not seen developers in my history attack the public process with the kind of enthusiasm that you have done, and it’s definitely paid off.” 

Final approval requires at least one more meeting with the Planning Board to allow vetting of the more “technical parts” of the plan, Latulippe said.

Once approved, Latulippe said he would like to begin construction by late July or early August. The project is expected to take six months.

Councilor Melissa Linscott said everything she has heard from the public about the project has been “very positive, and I think that says a lot for the developer. I think it’s a very creative idea for changing and developing this property.”

Priority will also be vetting organizations and businesses interested in leasing space in the new facility. They should contact Latulippe at [email protected] or 865-4323. 

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]. Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA.

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