Portland’s public works operations are a step closer to leaving West Bayside after the City Council voted Monday night to purchase a tract of land on Canco Road, freeing up a large parcel of land near downtown for development.

The council also approved taking on $3.4 million in new debt to facilitate the purchase, but city residents will be asked later to approve an $8 million bond to complete a future phase of the consolidation, which is expected to take years to implement. The council allocated $930,000 in proceeds from previous land sales toward the purchase.

Moving public works out of Bayside has been a longstanding goal, but large tracts of undeveloped industrial land are scarce in the city. Portland Mayor Michael Brennan said the move will free up land for much-needed development in an area long poised for a rebirth.

“This will change the face of Portland as we know it and only in a good way,” Brennan said. “This is a significant step forward for the city.”

The council voted unanimously to purchase the former PepsiCo. bottling plant at 250 Canco Road for $4.3 million. The acquisition of the 5-acre parcel will allow the city to create a 13-acre public works headquarters in an industrial zone in the center of the city.

The city began the relocation project last year with a property lease on Canco Road for a partial relocation, expected to cost about $3.1 million.

Two more phases were then planned: the $4.3 million proposal approved Monday to buy and upgrade the property at 250 Canco Road and move more operations out of Bayside, and an $8 million, longer-term plan to build an addition on that property for the city’s fleet services.

That second phase would require a citywide referendum. The fleet services division is now at 44 Hanover St. Until the funding is available, fleet services would remain there.

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

[email protected]