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August 15, 2018 | last updated August 22, 2018 2:22 pm

Saco Island developer buys part of multi-use building from city

Courtesy / City of Saco
Courtesy / City of Saco
Unit 91, the two lower levels of 110 Main St. in Saco, the building with the yellow awning, has been bought by Saco developer Bernie Saulnier. The city has owned the 58,000 square feet of space since it foreclosed on it in January 2016.

The developer behind a proposed Saco Island multi-use project has resolved a several-years' conflict over a portion of a former mill building on the island by buying it from the city of Saco.

Developer Bernard Saulnier bought the first two levels of the building at 110 Main St., Unit 91, for $400,000 on Tuesday.

The space was tax-acquired by the city in January 2016, and previously owned by the Island Terrace Owners Association, which represents residential condominium owners in 90 units on the upper three floors of the building.

Both levels of the building are about 29,000 square feet. The lowest level is parking for 41 cars, and the ground-floor level is mixed use, its yellow awning familiar to those driving by on Main Street, which is Route 9 connecting Saco and Biddeford.

Saulnier plans to develop the space as both residential and commercial, and expects to go before the planning board next month.

"Look for big changes to happen soon," said spokesman Mark Robinson, adding that the yellow awning will come down.

Saulnier, who bought another 55,126-square-foot portion of the building in May, also has acquired the six-acre undeveloped eastern part of the island, on the other side of Main Street, and is proposing a multi-use development there. That project goes before the planning board Aug. 21.

"Never have I seen a situation this complex," said Saulnier, in a news release about the Unit 91 purchase. "To the uninitiated, owning a commercial property sounds real easy. Then you find out that on Saco Island, nothing is easy. I'm glad it all worked out in the end, and I'm glad Saco will get its money back."

Saulnier said it is unlikely that the sale would have happened if Saco City Administrator Kevin Sutherland had not persistently championed it, and urged Saulnier to be patient.

Sutherland told the Biddeford Journal Tribune Tuesday that there were numerous issues with the property, including easements, that had to be resolved. He said the city is breaking even on the sale.

Saulnier said the last obstacle to overcome was meeting with the Island Terrace Owners Association, representing residential condominium owners on the island. The meeting took place Aug. 1, Saulnier said.

The tenants association sued Unit 91 LLC, which owned the two bottom levels with Saco Island West, in 2012, citing lack of maintenance and structural deficiencies. The owners at the time gave the property to Island Terrace Owners Association in December 2015, just before the city foreclosed on it.

Saulnier bought the 55,160-square-foot L-shaped eastern addition to the building, Building 2, which is also at 110 Main St., in May for $2.6 million.

That building faces Main Street, and houses the Saco Island Deli, the Social Security Administration office and other tenants.

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