Two projects expected to add over 70 units of housing in Portland had been listed for sale for the last three weeks, but the developer said Tuesday that he is not selling and instead plans to break ground this spring.

As of Tuesday morning, a 53-unit project at 75 Chestnut St. in Bayside was listed for $2.1 million and a 19-unit project at 155 Sheridan St. on Munjoy Hill was listed for $1.2 million on the commercial real estate website LoopNet.com. Both have already city approvals and are owned by Bernie Saulnier, a Saco-based developer.

Saulnier, of J&B Partners, is also trying to get approvals for a $40 million development project on Saco Island to prevent that land from being sold at a foreclosure auction in March.

At first, Saulnier denied Tuesday that the Portland properties were listed for sale. He then said they would be taken off the market next week, because he was in the process of securing financing for them. The listings were updated Tuesday afternoon to indicate the properties were no longer for sale.

“We have the financing in place,” Saulnier said Tuesday afternoon. “We’re finalizing things at the moment. As of next week, they’re coming off the market. We’re breaking ground this spring.”

Saulnier’s comments came only a few hours after his business partner said the properties were for sale.

John Veneziano, Saulnier’s partner and the real estate broker marketing the properties, said Tuesday morning that the properties have been listed since Jan. 3 and are generating “a lot of interest.”

“We just haven’t found the right client to develop the sites yet,” Veneziano said Tuesday morning. “The projects we have are in a popular location and are important to the revitalization for the Portland area.”

The Sheridan Street project was approved by the Planning Board in September 2017. It was delayed for several months when the City Council enacted a development moratorium to address concerns that the project would block views at Fort Sumner Park. The council ultimately limited the building height to preserve the panoramic views. And Saulnier scaled back the project from about 34 condominiums in six stories to 19 condos in four stories. An underground parking garage, estimated to cost $5 million, is also part of the project.

The Chestnut Street project was approved in December 2016 and modified last April for 53 apartments in a seven-story building next to an existing parking garage. Portland-based A&M Partners originally received the approvals for the estimated $5.9 million project, which would have included 38 two-bedroom units, 15 one-bedroom units and a commercial space.

Saulnier purchased the project from A&M Partners last August for $1.25 million, according to city tax records.

Site plans are valid for one year, with up to two, one-year extensions, according to the city.

Both properties currently are subject to active liens filed with the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds.

William Hopkins of Archetype Architects filed a lien on Jan. 14 for $98,548 in services provided from Aug. 1, 2017 to Oct. 25 for the Chestnut Street project.

Three liens have been filed within the last year for the Sheridan Street project, one of which has been discharged. Architect Ryan Senatore filed a lien on May 23, 2018 for $109,970 worth of work on the project. Structural Integrity Consulting Engineers filed a lien on May 21, 2018 for $14,600 for services it provided through a contract with Senatore. And Acorn Engineering filed a lien on June 7, 2018 for $8,156, but it was discharged on Aug. 28.

More than a dozen liens have been filed against Saulnier in York County in recent years, as well. Most have been filed since 2015 for amounts in excess of $20,000.

Saulnier purchased 6 acres on Saco Island in 2017. His $40 million development plan for the east side of the island include residential units, a 50-room boutique hotel, a restaurant and retail space, a 69-slip marina and a walking path along the river. The housing would have been in three buildings with a combined 87 apartment units and five townhouses.

Saulnier was urged by city officials to solicit feedback from the community before filing plans with the planning office.

Earlier this month, Joan Kurker, who holds a $350,000 mortgage on the island property, planned to foreclose and auction it off on Jan. 11. But the auction was delayed until March 15 to allow Saulnier time to get the necessary approvals for the project, according to Kurker’s attorney.

The project has not gone before the Saco Planning Board, and last summer ran into delays when the Saco River Corridor Commission, a quasi-state organization that works to protect the environment along the corridor, tabled the project application.

Randy Billings can be reached at 791-6346 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: randybillings


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