FAIRFIELD — A prominent parcel of land at the corner of Main and Lawrence streets will remain vacant for the immediate future, as a recent potential business for a development didn’t pan out.

The site, just over three-quarters of an acre on upper Main Street, has been vacant ever since the former Joseph’s Clothing & Sporting Goods building at the site was razed a few years ago. The site was sold to Hermon-based Ellis Commercial Management. The company, which also owns the former hardware store next door, bought the building for $90,000. The town provided incentives to Ellis to demolish both buildings and to build a structure on the site of the hardware store at Main Street and Lawrence Avenue.

The company also developed another Main Street property that is now the site of a Family Dollar store, where there is also office space available.

Town Manager Michelle Flewelling said she had heard there had been a discussion with a potential business owner to move into the development, but she said it was her understanding that it wasn’t the fit the developers were looking for.

Flewelling said the purchase agreement included a provision that Ellis would receive a credit of $25,000 on their mortgage for demolishing the two buildings and another $25,000 if it constructs a building of at least 5,500 square feet on the site. She said there was no time frame associated with these credits.

It would have cost the town more than $25,000 to demolish the building.

The parcel, which is less than a mile away from Exits 132 and 133 of Interstate 95, is situated right in the downtown area. It is next to the transformed Gerald Hotel, which house 28 apartments for seniors and the craft wine and beer store Meridians on the first floor. Across the street are the restaurants Dancing Elephant II and Sonny’s Pizza. The site is zoned for commercial use with direct access to U.S. Route 201. A brochure for the parcel states there could be ample paved parking on the site.

“We’d love to see something in there,” Flewelling said of the empty lot. “Anytime there’s new development in town it’s great. Had all the activity with Gerald and now the Gerald’s done, so it would be great to know there’s something going on next door.”

Flewelling said the downtown tax-increment financing district, a tool that captures tax revenue from the downtown area and uses it to help redevelop property in that district, was used to partially finance the deal with Ellis. Flewelling said that depending on the development of the lot, there could be credit enhancements.

Garvan Donegan, economic development specialist for the Central Maine Growth Council, said there has been interest in the site from businesses and that the development company is “ready, willing and able to do a project there.”

Donegan said he remained confident development would happen at the site because of its context. It’s a good square lot in the heart of downtown with easy access for travel, and Ellis is willing to custom build a project with the opportunity for a negotiable leasing rate. Additionally, he said close to 13,000 cars pass through that area daily, which a business would find attractive.

“The conditions are there, they just are,” he said.

Donegan agreed with Flewelling’s assessment that recently a business had been in conversation with the developers, but that it wasn’t a perfect fit. But Donegan said that spoke to interest in the site, as the developers were assessing a project.

Donegan did not want to guess at a time frame for development of the lot, but said he would not be surprised to see a good project in there within the next year or two.

“It’s a great site with a great potential building envelope,” Donegan said.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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