AUGUSTA — State officials hoping to get rid of the vacant former state Department of Transportation maintenance facility on Capitol Street and gain new office space for state workers are scheduled to award a bid for the work by the end of the month.

Last week state officials interviewed the third of three developer/contractor teams that submitted proposals to acquire and demolish the eight-building former state transportation maintenance facility at 109 Capitol St. and replace it with an 89,000-square-foot office building the state would then lease back to provide space for two state agencies.

Officials hope to choose a firm for the project within the next three weeks, according to David Heidrich, spokesman for the state Department of Administrative and Financial Services.

The plan is the state’s latest effort to get rid of the old, big, green DOT facility, vacant since October of 2014 when the department moved its maintenance operations from there to a new facility in north Augusta at 66 Industrial Drive.

In the same move, the state hopes to provide new office space to replace the Department of Health and Human Service’s aging main office at 221 State St. and also to provide office space for some, but not all, Department of Administrative and Financial Services workers.

The successful bidder on the project would be expected to build a new office building on the 9.2-acre site and lease it back to the state for a price of no more than $19 per square foot for up to 30 years. The specifics of what the three bidders proposed aren’t being released by the state as it considers which to choose.

“They’ll take ownership of the property, demolish it, build a new office facility and lease it to the state,” Heidrich said. “We make them aware of our wants, needs and desires and rely on them to put together a plan that meets those needs, while also complying with the $19 a square foot” maximum price.

The three groups that submitted bids were:

• Developer SPC Associates, of Hackensack, New Jersey, partnering with contractor Nickerson & O’Day, of Brewer, the general contractor currently working on Camp Chamberlain, the new headquarters for the Maine National Guard off Civic Center Drive;

• Developer Maine Course Hospitality, of Freeport, partnering with contractor Opechee Construction Corp., of New Hampshire, builder of the building leased by Maine Revenue Services and Office of Information Technology at the Central Maine Commerce Center in Augusta;

• and Developer FD Stonewater, of Arlington, Virginia, partnering with Landry/French Construction, of Scarborough, which built the building leased to the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Labor near the Portland International Jetport.

Maine Course Hospitality owner and co-founder Peter Anastos was one of three developers to submit bids in response to a previous state proposal seeking a developer to provide 225,000 square feet of state agency office space within one mile of the State House. The state ultimately rejected all three of those bids after determining they would not have saved the state money.

Anastos’ submission in response to that previous proposal would have been built on the same 109 Capitol St. property. Anastos previously had an option to purchase the property but in April, after the state rejected all three bids for the 225,000-square-foot office space proposal, he said he no longer had an option to purchase the property.

A total of 10 groups attended a site visit at the 109 Capitol St. property in September, but only three groups submitted proposals.

Heidrich said the last group was interviewed last week, and a state review team will now meet to score the submissions of all three, then seek to negotiate a lease with the group which submitted the highest-scoring proposal.

Heidrich said previously most of the state workers who would move to the proposed new building would come from the State Street headquarters of DHHS, which he said is a dated building that has reached the end of its useful life.

Information included in the packet of materials provided to companies interested in submitting their qualifications for the project included an office plan that indicates space would be needed for 689 state workers. Included in that total are 280 Center for Disease Control employees now primarily based at Key Plaza at 286 Water St., a prominent downtown Augusta location.

Heidrich said that doesn’t mean the state may not move workers from other departments into that space if it can negotiate a new lease. The state’s lease for 58,000 square feet of space in Key Plaza expires in June 2018.

City officials have expressed concern about the state moving workers out of leased space downtown, but expressed optimism that the new office space, because it would be owned by a private, property-tax-paying firm, and leased to the state, would provide the city with tax revenue. Properties owned by the state are exempt from local property taxes.

The team selected for the project would be expected to construct an office building within two years of the lease being negotiated. The state would likely occupy the building by July 2019.

The main, faded green building on the 9.2-acre site tucked between the Augusta Plaza on Western Avenue and the state capitol complex was built in 1920. Part of the building is still known as the bullpen because it used to house bulls and oxen that pulled heavy rollers used to pack down snow on roads.

The Maine Historic Preservation Commission reviewed the property and determined the buildings there are neither historically nor architecturally significant, in part because they have been altered and added to a number of times over the years.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj