Rockland to return prime commercial property to former owner

By Stephen Betts | Sep 12, 2017

Rockland — The Rockland City Council gave final approval Monday evening to returning a prime commercial property to its former owner who had failed for years to pay sewer fees.

The council voted 4-0 (Councilor Ed Glaser was absent) to sell 59 Camden St. back to Rockland Plaza LLC  and its principal owner, Mark Patel, of Biddeford. The property had been the longtime location of the Harry French automobile repair shop at the busy intersection of Camden and Maverick streets.

The city foreclosed on the property in April 2016, when then-owner Rockland Plaza failed to pay delinquent sewer fees that were more than two years in arrears, despite repeated notices and warnings sent to it by the city that it risked losing the property.

The property is assessed at $206,600. Rockland Plaza owed $270 in sewer fees that had been due from the end of 2013. The city had placed a lien on the property in October 2014, before the automatic foreclosure occurred in April 2016.

The property has sat vacant for 10 years.

The city put the property up for sale earlier this year and received two bids, including one from Rockland Plaza.

The second offer was received April 18 from Ryan Lawrence and George Andreaus of Camden.

Lawrence had said they would likely build to suit a tenant. He said they were looking at tenants for a restaurant, retail, office or automotive business.

"We have also tossed around the idea of putting some sort of seasonal restaurant or ice cream shop in. It is a great location and we hate to see the building sitting there rundown and not in use or on the tax roll," Lawrence had said.

The Camden pair had offered the city $15,000.

Patel's attorney, Harry Center II, of Biddeford, stated in a May 11 letter that Patel maintained he was the rightful owner.

Center said his client had pointed out that he hds met with city officials about possible development of the property and that he found it completely unnecessary and inappropriate for him to have to hire an architect or engineer for any development plan.

"He is fully capable of developing the property himself," the letter from Patel's attorney stated.

The property would most likely be for retail.

Patel offered to pay $13,920 in back property taxes he owes, as well as $439 in sewer fees that had accumulated. He has also offered to negotiate any additional costs the city said it has incurred on the foreclosed property.

The city is also requiring some repairs to the property before the transfer is finalized.

The 59 Camden St. property had been the Harry French automobile repair shop for 35 years until French retired in 2007. The building and one fifth of an acre has been vacant for a decade.

The lot was the subject of an environmental cleanup in 2010 because of spillage from fuel tanks.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Harry Fitzgerald | Sep 16, 2017 08:13

Should have sold to the Camden people for $15,000. Patel is only paying what he owes, less than $15,000. City gets more from the Camden proposal, and Patel still has to pay his debts to the city. City would have come out ahead with $15,000 sale and payment of bad debt from Patel of over$14,000. Now all city gets is what should have been already paid. Bad deal for taxpayers.

Nancy Fitzgerald

Posted by: Sharon Katherine Teel | Sep 12, 2017 09:00

This building needs to be removed! it has been an eyesore far to long. A blight on a very nice intersection at the North End.


Posted by: Dale Hayward | Sep 12, 2017 08:52

The $15,000 bid was shameful. Bad boys, bad boys. Nice try.

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