HAMPDEN, Maine — Town officials are in the process of reviewing a proposal that could put the final development of the Hampden Business & Commerce Park into the hands of a Stillwater-based earthwork company.
Sargent Corp., the only respondent to the town’s request this spring for proposals for the final phase of development, has offered to complete infrastructure work in exchange for the lots remaining in the town-owned park, located off Route 202, according to Dean Bennett, Hampden’s economic and community development director.
When the town decided to create the $3.1 million business park more than a decade ago, councilors vowed that it would be self-supporting and the burden would not fall to taxpayers, according to stories from the Bangor Daily News archives.
The idea was to create space suitable for light industrial manufacturing, distribution companies, wholesaling, commercial businesses, office space and other uses.
According to the proposal that the company submitted and that is now under review by town councilors, Sargent would complete the first phase of development by the end of December 2015 and the second phase by end of of December 2019.
Upon completion of each development phase, the town would deed the lots to Sargent, which would resell or redevelop them, thereby putting them back on the property tax rolls, Bennett said, adding that he believes the company has the financial wherewithal and expertise to do so.
Sargent’s proposal also is contingent on the town’s not starting to charge property taxes on the properties until they either have been sold or otherwise put to “beneficial use” by Sargent, such as a building for lease.
Once the parcels are sold or put to use, the developer would receive tax increment financing refunds of 50 percent of the mill rate for the first 10 years, the proposal states.
Sargent’s proposal shows that the company would build roadways called for in the town’s design for the park, but that it would eliminate a wetland crossing bridge intended to link lots in the first phase of development — the land closest to Route 202 — with the second phase, which is the land farther back from the roadway.
The company estimates its cost for the final design, permitting and construction at $2,250,000 for the first phase and $1,225,000 for the second phase. It estimated the property tax benefits for the town at $172,000 a year for the first 10 years and about $343,500 a year after that, based on the town’s tax rate.
According to the town’s website, the park comprises 37 lots on 132 acres. The park has a master plan and some of the necessary permitting in place. So far, however, only 10 companies have purchased land there.
Bennett noted that Sargent’s offer comes at a time when land values have bottomed out and the cost for building roads and other infrastructure is rising. While no decisions have been made with regard to the proposal, Bennett said that the council’s Planning and Development Committee recently voted to continue discussions with the company.