It would be an understatement to say we’re happy about the sale of the former Stinson Seafood property in Belfast this week. And not just the sale, but the new owners — a consortium of local marine industry and high-tech industry luminaries who plan to redevelop the site as a shipyard.

As a precaution, we’re inclined to say we’ll believe it when we see it, but the fact that the deed has changed hands and the principals have long, successful track records in Midcoast and central Maine gives us great hope for a property that has, during the past decade, suffered a fate worse than neglect.

For nearly a century, the 3.6-acre waterfront parcel was home to a sardine cannery, operating under a number of owners. The last, Stinson Seafood Company, closed the factory in 2001, leaving the property to the seagulls and graffiti artists, and also to the overtures of a steady stream of would-be developers.

The only substantive change to the property came in 2006, when a group of developers doing business as Belfast Bridge LLC started and then quickly abandoned an attempt to build condos and a marina. The preliminary demolition reduced the former cannery at the north end of the property to a crumbling skeleton, and while the post-industrial decay of the thing — highly visible from Route 1 — may have served some talismanic end in warding off gentrification, the abandoned project left the site even more of an eyesore. It was also unsafe.

As other potential developers tried to blow life into the tired high-end-housing-plus-something-plus-marina idea only to disappear, even the word “Stinson” came to seem like the opening to a bitter joke. The out-of-state owners couldn’t or wouldn’t sell it and appeared unwilling or unable to make any improvements. Residents and city officials wanted the site cleaned up badly enough that it was hard to imagine anyone — the sellers included — being choosy about what ultimately happened there, as long as something happened.

With the downturn in the economy, it became even harder to imagine the property changing hands in a meaningful way. Never mind that a group of experienced, successful and well-known local businesspeople would band together to buy the property and start a shipyard with the potential for boatbuilding and to service offshore wind and tidal energy equipment.

At this point, it seems like an armchair developer’s pipedream come true — a business with a lineage dating to the first European settlements of coastal Maine, and a clear eye to the future. The Front Street Shipyard, according to principals of the group, could be operating as soon as this summer. If it is, excellent; but if it takes a little longer, that’s fine too. It’s a great idea and we’ve waited this long, already.