SOUTH PORTLAND — City officials spent last year learning what residents thought should be done with the former public works site on O’Neil Street.

Now, they’re seeking proposals from developers interested in buying and building mostly housing on the 6-acre parcel in the sought-after Meeting House Hill neighborhood.

The city’s public works, parks and transportation divisions vacated the property last fall, after the new Municipal Services Facility off Highland Avenue opened Nov. 4.

What’s left is an unusual opportunity to create housing in a city faced with growing demand for affordable homes and little available land in residential neighborhoods.

“This property is significant for the city and for the Meeting House Hill neighborhood,” said Assistant City Manager Josh Reny. “We hope to receive proposals from a lot of qualified, experienced developers, and we hope the proposals are in line with the community vision described in the re-use committee’s report.”

Throughout last year, the O’Neil Street Facility Re-use Planning Committee held multiple meetings and public forums before submitting recommendations to the City Council in January.

The committee found that a majority of residents were open to a mix of single-family homes and apartments, similar to the surrounding neighborhood. They also wanted proposals that would be designed for people of all ages and affordable to people earning the city’s median annual household income of $56,250.

Competitive proposals would include open space, be environmentally friendly, connect O’Neil and Pitt streets, and provide a financial return to the city without making that the primary goal in judging submissions. Proposals could include multiple designs.

“The aesthetics and quality of designs will play a very big role in the selection process,” Reny said.

In a request for proposals advertised Friday, the city offers no development or financial incentives.

The chosen developer would be responsible for demolishing any buildings that remain on the site, as well as paying for all architectural and engineering services, project review costs and property appraisals associated with the project.

No asking price for the land is listed, and no appraisal has been done for the city, according to Reny.

Developers must attend a pre-proposal conference with city officials at 10 a.m. Feb. 27 at City Hall, followed by a mandatory site visit. Proposals must be submitted by 2 p.m. March 20.

The proposals will be opened in early April and reviewed by a selection committee that will include city officials and members of the re-use committee, Reny said.

Proposals will be judged on overall project design, development schedule, plan for public engagement and financial capacity to complete the project as pitched. Top scorers will be recommended to the City Council, which will have the final say in negotiating the sale and future development of the site.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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