The concrete foundation is all that remains of the former Stinson Seafood cannery along the Bath waterfront. Courtesy of Sam Lambert, KW Commercial Real Estate of Brunswick

There could soon be new life for the long-vacant Stinson Seafood cannery along the Bath waterfront.

The 5.6-acre lot on Bowery Street overlooking the Kennebec River has been vacant since 2005 when the cannery shut down. Former Maine Congressman Bruce Poliquin, principal of Dirigo Holdings, purchased the property the following year and now is exploring a sale. This week, an environmental assessment started to see what a potential buyer would need to clean up any pollution or contamination.

“I’m excited about this unique waterfront property in Bath coming back to life,” Poliquin said Thursday. “It’s had a rich history for the community, and I hope and expect it will continue to do so in the future.”

Poliquin said he purchased the property because it’s unique, with a large footprint, 850 feet of deep-water shoreline and within a 10-minute walk to downtown.

“There’s nothing like it in the Midcoast,” he said.

Poliquin previously listed the property for sale in 2010 for $2.5 million. He declined to say how much he’s seeking in a sale this time around.


The property is zoned for marine or industrial uses, meaning it could be turned into something like a marina, boat manufacturing facility or fish processing plant. Poliquin in 2021 explored building housing and a park by asking for a zoning change but backed off after receiving a lukewarm response from city officials.

Portland-based Ransom Consulting is doing the environmental assessment, which will take about two months. The assessment is being paid for with part of a $500,000 federal grant awarded to Bath last year to test potentially hazardous sites in the city in preparation for redevelopment projects.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind, unique property,” said Emily Ruger, Bath’s director of community and economic development. “There’s a ton of potential.”

If pollution is found at the site, the town could offer a low-interest loan to a buyer for cleanup costs, Ruger said. The city could also subsidize the redevelopment cost through tax increment financing and/or a Community Development Block Grant.

“The city has a toolbox full of tools we can use to help good development happen in the city,” Ruger said.

The Stinson Seafood cannery opened in 1946 and employed about 350 people packing sardines. A massive fire set by an arsonist in 2006 destroyed the buildings on the property, leaving only the concrete foundation. It had been one of the last remaining sardine canneries in the country.

The country’s last sardine cannery, also run by Stinson Seafood in Prospect Harbor, Maine, closed in 2010.

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