GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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January 9, 2013

Mayor: I-4, C-2 deal part of 'big picture'

Mayor Carolyn Kirk said Tuesday that her decision to consider selling the I-4, C-2 lot at 65 Rogers St. is a step toward redefining the local economy in a push to focus on marine science research and technology.

Placing the city-owned property for sale, one of the options in the city’s new request for proposals (RFP) for the site, would create an opportunity to draw in thriving marine research and technology businesses that would then attract more similar enterprises, Kirk said.

”This property, along with the Birdseye property, are the two opportunities that act as catalysts for change agents to further the local economy,” Kirk said.

Critics of the sale option, and some supporters too, have fretted that the minimum sale bid of $681,400, would leave Gloucester on the losing end of a sale deal, saying the price is too low. Others said Tuesday they would be hesitant to let go of the city-owned land.

But Kirk said the minimum buying bid, based on the current assessed value of the land, is simply the lowest possible acceptable offer, and the city would likely negotiate a buyer up to a higher price.

”Our goal was to have a number that we could justify so we used the assessed value knowing that we could go up from that number through negotiations,” Kirk said.

Kirk called it too early for the city to speculate on whether a sale would allow the city to recoup the $1.5 million in city and state funds spent on buying the lot in 2010. The lot has remained vacant since that purchase, with the city’s previous Request for Proposals drawing no applicants. Any development on the lot would have to include 50 percent of the property having a water-dependent use because the lot is encompassed by the state’s Designated Port Area (DPA) and the development strings attached to it.

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