City councilors voted to approve the purchase of a lot that includes a former grocery store on Willow Street, seen in February, as the location to build a new Augusta police station. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

AUGUSTA — City councilors voted unanimously Thursday to authorize the purchase of a Willow Street property where the city plans to build a new police station.

The council vote authorizes City Manager Susan Robertson to enter into a purchase and sale agreement with the owners of 7 Willow St. for $2,375,000 to buy the site. The city plans to build a new police station at the property, using $20.5 million in bond funds voters approved to build the new station in June.

Robertson told councilors Thursday that the price is under the amount budgeted and the purchase is something many people have been working on for a long time.

“It is a milestone,” Mayor David Rollins said of the purchase agreement.

Robertson said $900,000 of the purchase price will be paid to the city by Hannaford, to terminate its lease of the property.

Before the Hannaford between Cony and Stone streets was built, Hannaford had a supermarket at the Willow Street property, with a long-term lease that still has four years remaining on it with the building’s owners.


So Hannaford officials agreed to pay $900,000 to the city to get out of the remainder of that lease, funds that will go toward the city’s purchase of the property.

Robertson said the deal was primarily negotiated by Stephen Langsdorf, longtime city attorney.

JOFKAM Co. owns the property, with the owners of that company listed as Kathleen Denison, Johanna Rogowski, Martha Webster and Frederick Hennesey, according to city officials.

A previous appraisal of the site the city had done placed its value at around $1.9 million, and the property was previously listed at $2.2 million. However, the real estate market in the area has since seen skyrocketing prices.

The property is assessed by the city, for tax purposes, at $1,130,700.

The city plans to tear down the existing vacant supermarket and build a new police station on the lot, which is just under 2 acres in size.

Problems with the existing police station include a leaky roof; it does not meet current critical facility building code standards; water that cannot be consumed due to lead contamination in the pipes; bathrooms and locker rooms with rotted flooring and rusty stalls; inadequate heat; and security problems due to a lack of separation from the public, among other issues.

Councilors have debated building a new police station since at least 2018, although progress toward that goal was stalled by the coronavirus pandemic.

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