The Clough & Pillsbury building at 109 Congress St. in Rumford is being for sale by the town for $1. In November 2018 it was added to Maine Preservation’s list of Most Endangered Historic Places. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — The town is accepting proposals for the purchase and redevelopment of the Clough & Pillsbury building, which is priced at $1.

Requests for proposals to redevelop the Clough & Pillsbury building on Congress Street in Rumford will be accepted until 4 p.m. July 26. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times 

The deadline is 4 p.m. Friday, July 26.

The Board of Selectmen approved a request for proposals on June 6. Sealed proposals marked “Clough & Pillsbury Building RFP” will be accepted at the Town Manager’s Office, 145 Congress St., Rumford, ME 04276 or by PDF to [email protected]

Proposals will be reviewed by the Board of Selectmen within 30 days of submission.

The three-story, brick building at 109 Congress St. has been owned by the town for almost a decade. It has a total of 6,000, not including the basement.

In 1916, William Clough, in partnership with Walter Pillsbury, opened a hardware store in the building. Last November, it was listed on Maine Preservation’s list of Most Endangered Historic Places.

Town Economic Developer George O’Keefe said that designation resulted in about 10 showings last November.

“You’d get to the part where you talk about asbestos and people would just freeze,” he said. “They would assume, or wonder, if there was more. People had the perception that the building was structurally compromised in some way, or that were issues of some kind with the building.”

Over the winter, town officials were able to get an environmental site assessment, as a result of a Brownfield Grant funded through the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments.

“That grant (of up to $10,000), through no cost to the town, enabled us to tell developers that the building had a clean bill of health,” O’Keefe said. “It allowed us to tell people this is what is in the building. There are no further hazards.”

He said the first time he went into the building, he never smelled any mold or mildew.

“You walk in there and it’s dry,” he said. “There’s a flat roof, but it had work done on it sometime over the past 15 years. It doesn’t leak. There’s little issues here and there, but it’s not a fall down kind of thing.”

Regarding conversations with people interested in the building so far, the possibilities have focused on arts and education or an art gallery, and a restaurant, bar and maybe a taphouse.

O’Keefe said there are seven interested parties to date, six of them since last November.

He said he expects selectmen will get some “very attractive” proposals, “and I say that based on the fact that I’ve conversations with at least three very serious parties, and four others who are interested but not necessary serious.”

O’Keefe estimated it will cost about $10,000 to remove asbestos and hazardous materials.

“At that level, we think the amount of abatement necessary will not compromise the viability of a redevelopment project,” he said.

Another issue will be parking.

“Access is going to have to be negotiated with KeyBank,” he said. “We’re not making any guarantees whatsoever about access to the rear. But KeyBank has indicated to us that they believe the real estate operations of their corporate headquarters will be amenable to working out some kind of arrangement.

The town has waived all back taxes, some old liens and a $1,500 mortgage, he said. Overall, the value covered for the town is around $12,000.

“We would get that back in taxes in about three or four years, assuming valuation of $100,000 or more once it’s complete,” O’Keefe said.

The building is important because it maintains the integrity of the historic district, he said.

“We’ve had clear interest from the public and downtown advocacy groups like Envision Rumford and downtown merchants in seeing that building rehabilitated, and support from the Select Board.”

He said three buildings on Congress Street have changed ownership within the past month, but news of the transactions have not been made public yet.

“New investors, with new money coming in, are taking over properties from investors or owners who had no willingness or interest in preparing these buildings for either tenancy or operating a business of their own in,” he said.

“There is tremendous value to the recognition of the cultural significance of our historic downtown area. It adds greatly to the property values,” O’Keefe said.

[email protected]

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