Scarborough officials have entered into an agreement with a Portland developer to purchase the town’s public safety building. The police and fire departments are expected to move out of the facility this spring. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

SCARBOROUGH — The Scarborough Public Safety building at 246 Route 1 has housed the fire department since 1966 and the police department since 1989, but a Portland developer has a much different vision for the facility.

Jack Soley, principal of Horton LLC, is under contract to purchase the 21,000-square-foot building, which the departments plan to move out of in favor of a new building this spring. The deal is expected to close by May.

The 2.6-acre site, which includes a former house lot on Fairfield Street, is under contract to be sold to a Portland developer. The property has been home to the fire department for generations and the police station since 1989. Courtesy Roxane Cole

Town Manager Tom Hall said Soley is looking to redevelop part of the site into housing and restaurants.

The housing, Hall said, would be between 500 and 750 square feet and be reserved for those making no more than 125% of the area median income. The 2019 Portland area median income ranges from $65,100 for an individual, $74,400 for a couple and $107,880 for a family of six.

The Scarborough Public Safety Building is not the only municipal property Soley has purchased in recent years.

Two years ago, the city of Portland sold Soley land it owned at 60 Parris St., where Soley constructed a 23-unit, four-story building that targeted middle-income earners without relying on federal, state or local subsidies. The site was formerly used by the Portland Public Works facility.

That project, Hall said, could serve as a model for the one Soley envisions in Scarborough.

“It is all about housing diversity in town. It is not going to work for everyone, but for some, it could work out well,” he said.

Soley and Peter Harrington, a partner/associate broker with Malone Commercial Brokers, could not be reached for comment regarding the potential plans.

The proceeds from the sale, Hall said, will be used to offset the $21.5 million cost of building the new 53,000-square-foot public safety building next to Town Hall, as will $625,000 from the public safety reserve fund. Voters in November 2017 approved bonding $19.5 million for the project. Fire Chief Mike Thurlow and Police Chief Robbie Moulton have said a new facility is needed because the two departments have simply outgrown the current facility as the nature and scope of their work has changed. Photocopiers, finger printing and marine resource officer equipment are stored in hallways, a deputy fire chief works out of an old holding cell, the lunch room is also used to process breathalyzer tests and Moulton’s office has a make-shift indoor gutter system due to a roof leak. Getting in and out of the facility is also problematic.

The new building, designed by Context Architecture in Boston and constructed by Scarborough-based Landy French, is anticipated to meet the needs of the two departments through 2041, a time in which the calls for service is expected to climb to more than 65,700 for police and 8,400 for fire/rescue, nearly double last year’s calls for service.

Hall said there was a lot of interest in the existing public safety property since last year when it was first put on the market, but none serious enough to result in a purchase and sales agreement, until Soley came along.

“I am really pleased we waited,” Hall said. “He is a quality developer and doing somewhat unique things that match up with some of our public policy initiatives.”

Roxane Cole, who worked with Scarborough to find a buyer for the property, found Soley’s vision intriguing.

“We are excited for the town to have a quality mixed-use development right in the heart of town. We are all pulling hard that all this works out because it is a great fit for the neighborhood,” Cole said.

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