An aerial view of the “Piggery” in South Portland. Courtesy image

A 4-acre parcel at 115 Summit Terrace – known locally as the “Piggery” – will be preserved, after the city purchased it for $1.5 million, City Manager Scott Morelli announced Thursday.

The mostly wooded parcel has been used for years by residents for blueberry picking, walking and sledding, but was in danger of being sold for development by owner Quirino “Skip” Lucarelli. Lucarelli has been talking about developing the 6.2-acre Piggery, one of the largest undeveloped parcels in the city, for several years.

Summit Terrace is across from the South Portland Boys and Girls Club property on Broadway and is within walking distance of Bug Light Park and Southern Maine Community College.

Morelli said Lucarelli told the city he needed an offer by the end of January. The city approached Dan White, whose company HW Land Company LLC, was interested in buying the land. The city negotiated a deal that had South Portland purchase the property for $1.5 million and gives White just over a year to get Planning Board approval to build 20 condominiums on 2 acres.  White must pay $900,000 to the city, effectively reducing the city’s acquisition price to about $600,000, if the project is approved. The remaining four acres will be preserved as open space.

“Sure, some development is going to happen but the land that matters most to the neighbors will be saved,” Morelli said Thursday evening in a telephone interview.

The city used $500,000 in Land Bank funds and about $1 million from South Portland’s fund balance to complete the purchase. Morelli said the city could find another development partner if HW Land Company’s project falls through. The development will eventually produce about $100,000 in property tax revenues for South Portland.

“As you know, this project has now completely depleted our Land Bank Fund, and we had to dip into our fund balance significantly (about $1 million) to essentially finance the project for Dan White. It is a risk, but we will work as best we can to ensure that we are made whole as soon as possible. The Open Space Acquisition Committee is also working on other properties to prioritize for acquisition, with a bond question being put to voters potentially next November to help replenish the Land Bank,” Morelli wrote in an email to city officials and residents.

Exactly why the parcel is called “the piggery” is unclear. A city historian has researched the subject, digging through old records and asking older residents for their recollections. While South Portland had several pig farms in the past – off outer Highland Avenue and Broadway, and where the Maine Mall stands today – there’s no record of a piggery on that land.

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