OLD TOWN – City councilors last week authorized City Manager Bill Mayo to enter into an option agreement for redevelopment of the old Jefferson Street School.

Up until last year, the property housed the Southern Penobscot Regional Program, but that program for children with  behavioral and developmental disabilities was moved to Bangor. A few months later, RSU 34, which owned the property, deeded it over to the city. Pipes were drained and it was closed down for the winter; initially, it was feared that the city could end up with an unwanted albatross, prhaps for years, as the property needed extemsoive work to be used for other purposes.

Initially, that fear seemed like it might be realized – there was little interest in an initial round when the property was offered up for request for proposals. A second time, however, yielded three proposals, including one by a group of investors headed by Old Town’s Jeff Plourde. Their proposal was the one for which an option was gien last week.

That proposal calls for the property to be redeveloped with up to 17 “high-end” units – something that Plourde told councilors is in short supply in Old Town. The option for purchase, which is in place for nne months, adds that none of the units could be converted to subsidizied housing for at least 40 years, assuring the buildong stays on the tax rolls – a place where it has never been.

City officials priased the redevelopment plan, ackowledging the city was extremely fortunate to have had somebody come forward so soon after the school ended up in the city’s hands. Preparatory work for the redevelopment will take place in the months ahea; the agreement would allow for an extension on the option if necessary.

While much work needs to be done before a final plan can be out before the city, Plourde did say the developers want to keep the exterior as it is now, ensuring that the building’s long-familiar architecture remain that way.

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