AUGUSTA — One of four vacant residential buildings was demolished Thursday on the state’s east side office campus.

The buildings were group homes on the campus of the state’s former mental hospital, called the Augusta Mental Health Institute.

It was not immediately clear Thursday why the state chose to demolish the building now. A spokesman for the Maine Department of Administrative & Financial Services didn’t respond immediately to a request for that information.

For several years, however, state and local officials have been considering how the site, which is near the historic Kennebec Arsenal, could be re-purposed.

In 2014, state lawmakers passed legislation that would have allowed the land to be sold to a nonprofit group and converted into transitional housing for homeless veterans. But no proposals were made to purchase and reuse the buildings.

In recent months, developers have come forward with a proposal to convert the land into a substance-abuse treatment center for veterans, but the proposal is controversial and nothing has come of those discussions so far.

On Thursday, the city’s development director, Matt Nazar, confirmed that the state had received a permit in January to demolish the properties at 6 Arsenal St., 11 Arsenal St., 11 Independence Drive and 19 Independence Drive.

One of the two Independence Drive buildings was demolished Thursday.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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