It's been three years now since the city of Gloucester took possession through a tax foreclosure of a lot near what might be called the end of the Fort.
By doing so, the city itself became one of the property owners of one of the properties that sits within the historic Fort neighborhood's marine industrial zone — and is ideal, through its location on the waterfront, for marine industrial development.
Yet the city has not done anything with the property — nor has anyone apparently stepped up with a viable offer for it.
Thankfully, that is finally changing. Officials say the city is preparing to put the property up on the auction block. That's the ideal route to go if companies that are already on the Fort are indeed looking to expand as they say, or if there are indeed companies looking for harborside industrial space.
It was in 2009 that Gloucester — which, let's face it, does not have a pretty history as a commercial landlord — picked up the property at 110 Commercial St., which remains stacked with lobster traps and fishing gear and may well be ripe with soil contaminants from its days as home to Producer's Oil, among other businesses.
In that vein, there are no doubt questions as to who, what, or how much the site might bring the city if put up for bid. The first step in unloading it, James Duggan, the city's chief administrative officer, noted last week, is to determine what type of environmental cleanup is necessary and — perhaps the scary part — how much that might cost.
While that cleanup seems essential before launching any sale process, the fact is the city has to see this project through to bring this property back onto the tax roles as a private development site.
The city, of course, already has its hands full trying to develop one waterfront property — the infamous I-4, C-2 site off Rogers Street. And this land is no I-4, C-2, either in potential or in terms of headaches.
It is, however, a very viable marine industrial property in a marine industrial zone that should be sold for private development.
The city is right to finally start moving in that direction.