Houlton finds broker for Info Center land

8 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — Town councilors on Monday evening accepted a proposal from a Portland-based business for commercial real estate brokerage and marketing services to sell a piece of property where the Visitors Information Center is located off Interstate 95.

After advertising locally and on the internet, the town received just one bid from SVN/The Urbanek Group, which will perform the work for 8 percent gross sale commission if they are the sole broker and 10 percent gross commission if it is co-brokered. Erik Urbanek, a Houlton native, is managing director of the company.

Town Manager Butch Asselin said that the company will take pictures of the three-acre parcel and property and put them on their website as part of a plan to develop a marketing strategy for the property.

Town Councilor Jane Torres wanted to assure residents that councilors were not selling the Visitors Information Center.

“The Visitors Information Center will still be there,” she said. “It might not be in that very spot. The idea is to sell the property, get it back on the tax rolls and then have the center remain on that same location or moved at the expense of the person who buys the property.”

Jon McLaughlin, executive director of the Southern Aroostook Development Association, said on Monday evening that the town simply could not afford to buy the Visitor Information Center, but would like to see it generate some income for the town by putting it back on the tax rolls. With this strategy, a buyer could have the freedom to purchase the property and either keep the building in the same spot or tear it down and move the Visitors Information Center to a new section of town at their expense.

“I think it will work out well for the town this way,” he said. “It takes care of the cost issue and it puts it back on the tax rolls.”

Houlton took ownership of the center five years ago, a facility which offers maps, brochures and other information about Houlton, Aroostook County and the rest of the state. Houlton has spent more than $150,000 to finance maintenance at the center in that time, but has also received financial assistance from Maine Office of Tourism, Aroostook County and the Maine Department of Transportation.

McLaughlin said that the final sale price will cover the 8 percent sale commission requested by SVN/The Urbanek Group.