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Selectmen hear proposal for sale of school

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Jun 18, 2020
Source: File photo The Board of Selectmen considered a proposal for marketing and sale of the former Stockton Springs Elementary School June 18.

Stockton Springs — The 2020 town meeting will be held July 18 at 9 a.m. in the Town Office parking lot in a drive-in format, it was announced at Thursday's meeting of the Board of Selectmen. Town Manager Jennifer King said residents will be given wooden dowels with which to display their votes through their open car windows, and an FM transmitter will be used to broadcast the proceedings across the parking lot.

The bulk of the meeting was taken up with discussion of next steps in the process of selling the vacant former Stockton Springs Elementary School, as townspeople voted to do in March. The board heard from Ruth Lind, president and CEO of Portland-based Tranzon Auction Properties, who had made a presentation back in January. Selectmen seemed to like the fact that a sale at auction could be accomplished quicker than one through a real estate agent — potentially, in as little as three to four months after signing a contract.

Lind went over the process her firm would follow to market and sell the school. She suggested a marketing budget, to be provided by the town, of $3,500 to $5,000, and a marketing period of four to six weeks. During that time, she said, Tranzon would prepare a detailed information package on the school and post it on its website. Anyone seeking to download the package would have to supply contact information, and Lind would follow up with them within 24 to 48 hours of their downloading the package.

In addition, her staff would use Tranzon's database of 250,000 names to contact potential buyers who are known to be interested in this type of property. The company would also advertise the school online and in print, she said.

Lind recommended an online auction, to avoid concerns related to COVID-19. To allow potential buyers to see the property before the auction, she suggested having two previews, one on a weekday and the other on a weekend day, where interested parties would have to sign up in advance for a one-hour slot to view and tour the premises, in order to control the number of people on the site at a given time.

The board had an appraisal of the school done in April, which estimated the value of the building and land, in their present condition, at $452,000. However, King has acknowledged to The Journal previously that she did not expect the school to bring that amount.

Lind said an "absolute auction," where there is no minimum bid, would bring in the most bidders, but a "reserve auction," where the seller sets a minimum acceptable price, could assure the town of not selling the property for less than the $40,000 already invested in maintaining it. She said she could work with a minimum bid of $40,000 to $50,000, and would hope the final price would go "much higher." The decision about whether to stipulate a minimum bid, and what it should be, will be made by selectmen.

Tranzon's commission would be paid by the inclusion of a 10% buyer's premium at auction, she said. The winning bidder would pay an additional 10% on top of their bid, which would cover the auction house's fee, plus any commission for a buyer's broker, if one were involved. The sale would be final 45 days after the auction.

Lind went over the listing contract with selectmen, and left it for them to examine. King will also have it reviewed by town attorney Edmond Bearor of Rudman Winchell in Bangor. In addition, King said, the board wants to allow a week for residents to comment on Tranzon's proposal. It will meet at 8 a.m. June 25 to decide whether to accept the plan.

Following the meeting, King told The Journal assisted living developer Jake Chambers, who had expressed interest in the school for a nominal price, had not replied to her email offering to sell it to him for $100,000.

In other meeting business, King said the town had received requests to eliminate trash stickers, which can only be obtained at the Town Office right now because of the pandemic. In order to do that, she said, it would be necessary to add $10 per $100,000 property valuation to residents' taxes. The board took no action, but may consider it at a future meeting.

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