SOUTHWEST HARBOR, Maine — A local resort housing project that is believed to be one of the largest permitted developments on Mount Desert Island is scheduled to go on the auction block in late March.
Ocean’s End, an approximately 47-acre condominium and development project, is being put up for auction by The First bank, which holds the deed to the property, according to officials with the auction company handling the event. The Village at Ocean’s End, which remains largely undeveloped, is located on a hill on the west side of Main Street overlooking the local harbor. The property is assessed for taxes at more than $2 million.
The development rights to 37 luxury home sites and, directly across Main Street, a waterfront parcel with a pier will be part of the auction package offered up at 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 26, 2013, Keenan Auction Company indicated in a recently released statement.
According to the auction company, bids will be accepted in person and online during the auction from bidders who have qualified by submitting a $100,000 deposit with the auction firm. On-site previews of the property, located at 474 Main Street, are scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, March 5, and at the same time on Tuesday, March 12.
Stef Keenan, the auctioneer, said Tuesday that there are three houses on the property — one that was built before Ocean’s End was created and has since been renovated, one that is completed, and another that is under construction.
The property also has a paved 2,200-foot-long “boulevard,” curbing and sidewalks, stone retaining walls, and three landscaped drainage ponds.
Utilities that have been installed on the property include public water and sewer that has been extended to roughly 20 house sites, and underground electricity and communications cables that have been extended to approximately 15 house sites.
Roughly half of the property, at the western end away from Main Street, does not yet have any developed home sites or infrastructure in place, he said.
Keenan said the property is being auctioned off with the existing condominium arrangement, which requires homeowners on the property to pay an association fee for expenses such as road maintenance, trash removal and snow plowing. Property taxes on the constructed homes, he said, are billed directly to the homeowner by the town. Whoever acquires the property, he added, could leave the condominium arrangement in place but may decide not to do so.
Keenan said the property is unusual in that it is one of the largest on Mount Desert Island that has been fully approved for development. He said the property is large enough and relatively undeveloped enough that it could accommodate a resort hotel with associated rental homes surrounding it.
“These don’t come up for public auction very often,” Keenan said.
The original project, spearheaded by developer Jeff Crafts, sparked controversy in 2009 when Crafts proposed a novel way to connect 40 houses that he planned to build on the property. Crafts’ development proposal, which was approved by the town’s planning board, was to connect pairs of homes in the development with underground, concrete utility tunnels so together they could be counted as one unit under local ordinances, rather than as separate dwellings.
Some residents, fearful of the precedent set by Crafts, requested that town officials enact a moratorium so the town could address the apparent loophole in the town’s development density standards, but those efforts ultimately failed.
Attempts Monday and Tuesday to contact Crafts, who has a listed address in Punta Gorda, Fla., were unsuccessful.
According to official information posted on the town’s website, the assessment of Ocean’s End in 2012 was $2,038,100, which resulted in a municipal property tax bill that year of $27,310.54.