A group of veteran Midcoast marine industry players appears poised to buy the former Stinson Seafood Company property on the Belfast waterfront and redevelop the site as a large-scale boatyard, that could one day include boatbuilding and work with offshore wind and tidal energy equipment.

While the property has yet to change hands, the potential sale prompted a special City Council meeting Jan. 11 at which councilors authorized a draft settlement of litigation against the current owner and approved a draft memorandum of understanding with presumptive buyers.

The buyer’s group, comprised of Rockport Marine owner Taylor Allen, Brooklin Boat Yard President Steven White, Kenway Corporation owner Kenneth Priest, and J.B. Turner, also of Kenway Corp., are hoping to close on the property by the end of the week, according to Allen, who spoke to VillageSoup on Jan. 11.

“The idea is that we’re going to start a boatyard that will be a service yard in the sense that we will repair and restore boats of all kinds,” he said. “With any luck we’ll get into new boat construction as well.”

Allen said a major feature of the boatyard would be a substantially larger travel lift than operates at either Rockport Marine or the Brooklin Boat Yard, capable of moving boats weighing up to 150 tons, a figure that Allen said roughly translates to vessels in the range of 120 feet in length.

On the decision to pursue the former Stinson property, Allen said there were two major attractions with the site.

Once a tidal inlet bounded by a railroad tressle, “Puddle Dock,” as the waterfront land on which the Stinson property sits was once known, became the town dump in the early part of the twentieth century with the accumulation of trash eventually displacing the water entirely. As a result, the land is unusually flat, which Allen said is ideal for a boatyard, and rare in coastal Maine.

He also touted the services and amenities in the nearby downtown commercial district that he said would appeal to the transient crews of larger vessels serviced in the boatyard.

“If it were a flat piece of land out in the boondocks somewhere, it wouldn’t work,” he said.

The new boatyard would operate independent of Rockport Marine and Brooklin Boat Yard, and would likely deal more in composite hulls than either of these businesses, which have specialized in wooden boats, Allen said.

Kenway Corp., the apparent wild card in the group, would also remain independent of the new boatyard, but according to Director of Advanced Technology J.B. Turner, the company would likely partner with the new boatyard to some degree. Turner is slated to be the managing partner at the site, overseeing construction of the new boatyard and running day-to-day operations.

The Augusta-based Kenway Corp. has a line of small, composite-hulled motor boats under the Maritime brand, but deals primarily in composites for use in industrial applications. In a recent example, reinforced resin tubes fabricated by Kenway Corp. have been used as structural components for the new “bridge-in-a-backpack” technology, developed at the University of Maine and put to use last year in bridge built on Herrick Road in Belfast.

Turner, who was with Lyman Morse Boatbuilding in Thomaston for 11 years and now markets composite technology for Kenway, said the company sees the project as a good investment, especially in the event that the facility gets into new boat construction.

“Bringing composites together with wood construction, having all the mediums … makes a very strong team,” he said. “Not many boatyards have the ability to pull from all that expertise.”

In the long term, Turner said the facility could be used to service and launch equipment for offshore wind and tidal energy projects. He said it remains to be seen, though, how that will unfold.

“The University of Maine is really driving that business. It’s a matter of, down the road, how that industry develops itself,” he said. “And who the final players are going to be, nobody knows.”

Turner said the group hopes to have the boatyard up and running by summer, with the boatbuilding and wind industry facets coming into play sometime in the future.

The group has been focusing most of its energy on acquiring the property, he said, and as a consequence has yet to nail down a final design the boatyard.

Asked what might happen to existing buildings on the site, however, Turner said the skeletal structure at the north end of the property would definitely be demolished, while some of the other buildings on the site would likely remain standing and be incorporated into the new plan.

The 3.6-acre, waterfront property, which was the site of a sardine cannery for nearly a century, is currently owned by the investor/developer group Belfast Bridge LLC. In 2005 the developers bought the property with the intent to convert the old industrial site to a high-end condominium, retail and marina complex called Wakeag Landing.

The project was started in 2006 and abandoned later that year, apparently after the developers ran out of money. There have been several proposals since then, but the property has remained largely untouched and in a state of disrepair.

In the meantime, the prominently located buildings have been the source of ongoing complaints from residents, who have regarded them as eyesores and potentially dangerous. In 2009, the city issued a number of code violations in an unsuccessful attempt to spur the owners to clean up the property and demolish the skeletal building at the north end of the property, known as Building 1.

Subsequently, the city brought a pair of lawsuits against the owner, to force the demolition of Building 1 and to clarify the rezoning contract between the owner and the city.

The Council’s actions on Tuesday night suggest that a sale would allow the city to settle the lawsuit. Both the settlement agreement and the memorandum of understanding were considered in draft form and were therefore not made public, but City Manager Joe Slocum confirmed that the city intends to resolve the lawsuit by way of the imminent sale.

“At this point in time, Belfast is trying to resolve all outstanding issues with the former owner, and preparing for a new owner of the Stinson property,” he said, adding that it was important that the new owner take responsibility for the loose ends left by the current owner, like the demolition of Building 1.

“We hope that will happen soon, and it looks very promising,” he said.

With regards to the memorandum of understanding, which was voted upon by the Council but not made public, both Allen and a representative of the city said the document is being drawn up specific to Allen’s group, and that the final document would refer to the members by name.

If the project goes ahead as planned, the new boatyard would be within a stone’s throw of the 25-year-old Belfast Boatyard. But Allen said he doesn’t see his group’s venture as being in competition with that business. Rather he sees the new boatyard as bolstering Belfast’s presence in the marine industry and attracting other related businesses to the area.

“It’s our opinion that if this comes off the way we want, it would be a benefit to all the surrounding facilities [including] the Belfast Boatyard [and] French & Webb,” he said.

Given that the property has yet to change hands, Allen was hesitant to make too many projections.

“We are still in negotiations,” he said. “I’m hopeful it will happen later this week but we are not the landowners yet.”