GUILFORD, Maine — Town officials are moving forward on demolition of the historic but dilapidated J.K. Edes building.
Selectmen recently voted to solicit bids to remove the vacant Water Street building, which they consider an eyesore and a safety hazard. Proposals must be received by the town by 4 p.m. Jan. 6, when selectmen are expected to take action.
“I just want to get rid of the liability at this point and make that corner secure, at least for the pedestrian traffic, and we’ll worry about what we can do with it someday when times are a little bit better,” Guilford Town Manager Tom Goulette said Thursday.
For a while it appeared that the building would be saved by incorporating it into a proposed multimillion-dollar complex planned by a former Guilford resident and her husband. That project hinged on donation of an adjacent lot owned by True Textiles Inc., formerly known as InterfaceFABRIC Inc. and Guilford of Maine.
Although previous company officials had discussed the donation with town officials, the new owners denied the town’s request to donate or lease the property.
When that request was denied, Jeanine Samuel and her husband, David, of the Carolinas, who had offered to help revitalize the town, withdrew their offer to pay $25,000 for the land and develop an environmentally friendly set of buildings wrapped around the Edes building.
Another offer made at the same time as the Samuels’ was rejected by the town. That proposal made by the Guilford Historical Society offered $80,000 for the land and building, which the society planned to restore. Roxanne Quimby, co-founder and former CEO of Burt’s Bees, offered the historical society that amount for its purchase since her business once occupied the Edes building.
The brick building has deteriorated over the years to a point that some beams are rotted, according to town officials. The building with its boarded-over windows stands in stark contrast to the section of downtown that was revitalized last summer with new sidewalks, facades, lights and trees.
Goulette said a lot of interest has been expressed by contractors for the building’s demolition. He guessed that interest was a direct result of the poor economy in that contractors are finding jobs scarce.
The town already has paid $25,000 to purchase the vacant lot where the Braeburn Hotel burned several years ago and will be responsible for paying for the building’s demolition, according to Goulette.
Once the building has been removed and the lot cleaned, town officials will “go back to the drawing board” and see whether anyone would develop the property to bring businesses to the community, Goulette said.