A historic church in Portland’s West End that was the subject of a controversial zone change upheld by Maine’s highest court is about to be sold at auction, unless a pending purchase is finalized in the next two weeks.

Williston West Church at 32 Thomas St. is scheduled to be sold at a foreclosure auction on Feb. 15, according to public records. However, a real estate agent who has been marketing the building’s five luxury condominiums for the past year says the property, which also includes the church sanctuary and office space, is under contract with a potential buyer.

Realtor Bill Sullivan said he could not provide further details about the potential sale, or speculate about whether the closing could occur before the scheduled auction. He said the property is vacant and is move-in ready.

Williston West was purchased in December 2011 by Frank Monsour, an Australian businessman who planned to use the first floor of the parish house as the U.S. headquarters for his software development company, Majella Global Technologies.

Built in 1877, the Williston-West complex is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its sanctuary was designed by Francis Fassett, a prominent architect. In 1904, John Calvin Stevens, Portland’s most famous architect, built the parish house next door.

The church complex had suffered from deferred maintenance before it was purchased by Monsour, who restored the complex, adding condos, office space and repairing the brickwork and replacing the slate roof on the sanctuary.

In 2012, the City Council rezoned the property to allow for up to a 14-person office building. Neighbors sued and had the rezoning overturned in a lower court, only to have the Maine Supreme Judicial Court rule in 2014 that the rezoning was legal.

Monsour appears to have taken out a $1.4 million mortgage from the Maine Capital Group to finance the renovation project, according to records at the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds.

Maine Capital Group’s Dan McCarron declined to comment on the circumstances leading to the foreclosure and scheduled auction.

“It just came to the point of collections for a variety of reasons,” McCarron said.

Monsour declined through a family member to comment.

Williston West is not the Monsour family’s only real estate project in Maine.

In 2017, Sebastian Monsour, the CEO of the Majella Group, announced he was buying and reopening Saddleback ski mountain in Rangeley.

But Sebastian Monsour was arrested last June in Australia. At a news conference, police announced they had arrested Sebastian Monsour following a raid of his Brisbane office. They accused him defrauding a Chinese investor of $5 million – the result of a “long and protracted investigation,” they said.

Sullivan, the Portland real estate agent, said the five luxury condos have been on the market for nearly a year. The two- and three-bedroom units, ranging in size from 1,100 square feet to 2,100 square feet, were listed between $500,000 and $1 million, he said.

“We had a lot of out-of-town interest from people from Boston and New York,” he said.

A public announcement about the foreclosure says the auction will take place at 1 p.m. on Feb. 15 at 32 Thomas St. Interested parties must deposit $25,000 with the auctioneer, Tranzon Auction Properties, if they plan to bid on a single unit and $50,000 if they plan to bid on more than one unit. Bidders must close within 45 days of the sale.

 


Comments are not available on this story.

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.