Hampden council OKs business park development deal

Posted April 23, 2014, at 5:25 a.m.

HAMPDEN, Maine — Town councilors voted unanimously Tuesday night to 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, had offered to complete infrastructure work in exchange for an option to purchase for $1 each the remaining lots in the town-owned park, located off Route 202, according to Dean Bennett, Hampden’s economic and community development director.

“Right now, all that’s there is hay — and it’s hay we don’t even use,” Bennett said about the parcel during an interview earlier this month.

The estimated cost to build the necessary roads and bridges and to bring water, sewer and other utilities to the second phase of the park is nearly $3.5 million, according to the development agreement that town officials negotiated with the company.

The agreement requires that Sargent complete the work within seven years. 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.

The town developed the first phase by constructing the roads, waterlines, sewers and other improvements. Eleven of the 17 lots in that phase have been sold and the agreement with Sargent gives the town the right to continue to market the remaining six. The final phase has an additional 20 lots.

Upon completion of each development phase, the town will deed the lots to Sargent, which in turn will resell or redevelop them, thereby putting them back on the property tax rolls, Bennett said earlier, adding that he believes the company has the financial wherewithal and expertise to do so.

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 for new taxable development of $500,000 and up.

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.

According to the town’s website, the park consists of 37 lots on 132 acres. The park has a master plan and some of the necessary permitting in place.

Bennett pointed out last year that Sargent’s offer came at a time when land values had bottomed out and the cost for building roads and other infrastructure was rising.

After the 6-0 vote, Town Manager Susan Lessard commended Bennett for quarterbacking the deal with Sargent Corp.

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