HALLOWELL — Land at the Stevens School campus would be best redeveloped to accommodate office space, senior housing and new homes, according to an appraiser who valued 40 acres of the property at nearly $900,000.

The state-owned complex has long loomed over Hallowell politics as a key piece of the city’s economic development future, and the broker who once tried to sell the campus said he’s “bullish” on it.

Appraiser Daniel Dwyer’s report to the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services earlier this month is the first look at its potential value since the state tried to sell it in 2008, eventually marketing the whole property for $1.1 million and finding no takers. Maine is preparing to shed it again, likely with a different approach.

Dwyer’s report assumes that the state will get city approval to divide much of the campus into four parcels that could be offered separately to different developers. The appraisal excludes the 12 acres of land that the state plans to give to Regional School Unit 2, which includes their leased office and 10 acres of land behind it that the state plans to keep for potential development.

Dwyer places this 40-acre portion’s value at $893,000, pegging three office buildings in the campus’ core at $527,000, an office building along Winthrop Street at $161,000, five smaller buildings in an area that could be used for senior housing or other residential uses at $155,000 and 20 acres of open space that could be used for new homes at $50,000.

The state could start marketing the property this fall, said David Heidrich, a spokesman for the department, adding that “we are encouraged by the appraisal report and hope that there will be significant interest from developers.”


Chris Paszyc, the broker from CBRE/The Boulos Company in Portland, who tried to sell the campus before, has said the 2013 closure of the Central Maine Pre-Release Center there improved conditions for a sale. He called Dwyer’s report “a good indicator of market value” but that a market price of $1 million “is still defensible.”

“I am bullish on the future prospects for the campus,” Paszyc said.

It won’t come without challenges. Dwyer said the conditions of buildings, some of which date back to the 1800s, range from good to very poor and that one building, the vacant Erskine Hall, should be demolished. He says the buildings have energy inefficiencies, asbestos pipe insulation and flooring and that many of the interiors would have to be reconfigured for new uses.

Mayor Mark Walker said many people in Hallowell would welcome senior housing at the campus. A market study conducted for an Augusta housing project expected to open this year found that the area will need more rental units to accommodate a projected additional 192 renters over age 65 in the Augusta area between 2013 and 2018.

However, City Manager Michael Starn said “the proof is in the pudding,” and it’s not until potential developers come forward that leaders will be able to gauge the property’s possibilities.

“We can all have opinions about it, but the people who are willing to put money behind their opinions really matter,” he said.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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