November 16, 2011

Real estate issues top Gardiner agenda

GARDINER -- Councilors on Wednesday will deal with real estate issues, including a dangerous building and the sale of a historic house foreclosed on by the city for back taxes.

Terance Christopherson and Lisa Hicks of Sunrise Business Solutions made a bid in July on the former carriage house built in 1903 at 18 Dennis St.

They offered to buy the building for $10,000 and demolish the structure and merge the lot with property at 22 Dennis St. The demolition costs is estimated to be between $27,000 and $29,500.

The building, which has been assessed at $200,000 and has fallen into disrepair. It was designed by noted Portland architect John Calvin Stevens and was part of the Frank E. Boston estate. Boston was a founder of the Gardiner General Hospital and general manager of Hollingsworth & Whitney Paper Co., which was bought by Scott Paper Co. in 1954.

Christopherson said merging the two lots should increase the market value and desirability of all the properties on Dennis Street.

"On Dennis Street, the bidder made an offer of $10,000 to demo the building and combine the lot with one they own next to it," said City Manager Scott Morelli Thursday. "The council accepted with two conditions -- that the new lot not be used for a multi-family home and a timeline be established for demolition. The bidder will not agree to a timeline so the council is going to consider whether they want to proceed with a lot sale or seek other options."

Morelli said councilors will discuss this at their meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. at City Hall along with a building declared dangerous at 11 Sherburne Ave.

Code Enforcement Officer David Cichowski said the city issued the owner a permit in 2003 to demolish the two story home, but he only took down have of the structure. Cichowski said the two-acre lot is in a high density area and abuts the Riverview Elementary School.

"Basically, two walls are standing so you can see right through the house," Cichowski said. "The upstairs floor is there so if you walk in you have this suspended floor not even being held up by much. For eight years it sat there completely open to the weather, there's no roof. He said he just ran out of spare time. He was salvaging the material and wasn't working, but now he has a steady job and doesn't have the time."

Cichowski said he mailed a letter to the owner, Leon Hinkley, giving him 45 days to voluntarily remove the structure. When that didn't happen the city held a public hearing as a way to move the process along.

"Once that was done we still gave him another 60 days to do it on his own," he said. "So by October 31 if it's not torn down and completely leveled and dirt put in the cellar the city will have a contractor do it. That cost, which should be just under $4,000, will be charged to his taxes."

Mechele Cooper -- 621-5663

mcooper@centralmaine.com

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