SOUTH PORTLAND — The owner of one of the largest undeveloped parcels in the city has resurrected controversial plans to build a condominium complex and some neighbors aren’t happy about it.

The 6-acre property, known as “the piggery” based on its likely historical use, is off Broadway, between Sawyer Street and the Willard Square neighborhood. It’s a ledgy, hillside plot behind Summit Terrace Apartments in one of the city’s most densely populated residential areas.

Owner Skip Lucarelli said he intends to build 36 market-rate condos in several 0ne- and two-story buildings, which is allowed under current residential zoning. Lucarelli has yet to submit plans to be reviewed by the city, but he said he hopes to start construction in the spring.

“It’s what’s allowed,” Lucarelli said, noting that the project would be smaller than two previous development proposals that raised neighborhood opposition and were dropped.

Neighbors aren’t waiting to sound the alarm. They’re concerned about the potential loss of precious open space that promotes outdoor recreation, supports wildlife and absorbs stormwater runoff.

“It’s the last bit of green space in the neighborhood,” said John Hychko, who lives on Barstow Street. “It’s criss-crossed with trails and includes a natural creek bed.”

Hychko said the neighborhood already experiences flooding during heavy rain, when water rushes down Sawyer Street, detouring onto side streets and into basements where sump pumps run constantly.

“Our neighborhood already has a drainage problem,” Hychko said. “If they put more impermeable surface in there, it’s only going to make it worse.”

Hychko acknowledged that it’s not a pristine property. It’s long been a dumping ground for urban waste, including chunks of concrete.

Exactly why it’s called “the piggery” is unclear, said Kathy DiPhillipo, a city historian. She has researched the subject, digging through old records and asking older residents for their recollections.

While South Portland had several pig farms in the past – off outer Highland Avenue and Broadway, and where the Maine Mall stands today – there’s no record of a piggery where Lucarelli wants to build condos.

“It’s oral history,” DiPhillipo said. “Any place you had some pigs, they called it a piggery. There had to have been a piggery near that property at some point.”

Back in 2003, the City Council approved a conditional residential district for the property that would have allowed Lucarelli to build 56 apartments or condos in one building.

Neighborhood opposition cropped up and Lucarelli let the special zoning run out. In 2014, a similar proposal by Hardypond Construction also raised neighbors’ ire and it fell through.

In recent months, the Conservation Commission, planning staff and the city manager’s office considered and decided against buying the land from Lucarelli with municipal Land Bank funds.

While Lucarelli was willing to sell, city officials determined that the property didn’t meet the standard for providing open space opportunities that would benefit residents outside the immediate neighborhood, said City Planning Director Tex Haeuser.

The property is assessed for tax purposes to be worth $423,000. Lucarelli was seeking $1.5 million, “which is a lot when you consider the condition it’s in,” Hychko said.

Lucarelli previously built Summit Terrace Apartments, a 96-unit complex made up of several buildings constructed from 1977 to 1988. That’s assessed at $7.1 million, but it sold for $9.7 million in 2018, according to city tax records.

Lucarelli said the 36 condos would be built to minimize blasting, which is regulated by the city. He said he also would consider maintaining a recreational path on the property, which is located at the end of Everett and Lowell streets.


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