The city is gearing up for another try at putting the long-derelict lot at 65 Rogers St. out to bid for development.
Mayor Carolyn Kirk said Tuesday that the city will send out another request for proposals (RFP) for the I-4, C-2, lot on Rogers Street in late September.
While the final details aren’t hashed out yet, Kirk said the city is making one major change. This time, the RFP will allow for a phased approach to creating multiple projects on the site, rather than limiting bids to a single developer.
“We’re hoping to draw marine industrial, water depended uses,” said Kirk. “We know from experience that the market (for those uses) is very slim.
“Those types of uses can’t take on the entire burden of the parcel,” she said. “That’s why we’d phase it.”
Phasing the project would allow for smaller companies to bid for sections of the city-owned I-4, C-2 site, which continues to function as a free parking lot. That approach also keeps one developer, Kirk said, from assuming the risk for and coordinating the entire parcel.
The I-4, C-2 site remains within the city’s Designated Port Area. The City Council backed off an attempt to seek special legislative action to pull the parcel out of the state harbor regulations in April, leaving the scope of the DPA up to the city’s 2012 Harbor Planning process.
Gloucester initially put the parcel out to bid in September 2011. At the end of a three-month bidding process, the property drew some interest from developers, but none extended a proposal. In a series of interviews with those who expressed interest, developers told the city that the parcel offered them a very uncertain outcome with limited return on investment. They said they needed the city to step in and partner with a developer and loosen some of the restrictions and financial requirements in the RFP. Kirk said her administration is working out those details, and expects to have the new RFP out by Labor Day, she said.
The city’s initial proposal stipulated that the city would continue to own the property, and required a commitment for a 99-year lease and a minimum $76,000 in annual tax revenues.
Kirk said the city still intends to lease the property. But phasing the development in, Kirk said, provides some of the flexibility that developers were looking for without changing the zoning.
City Councilor Bruce Tobey, chairman of the council’s Planning and Development Subcommittee, said the council will push back on the leasing provision, adding that that’s one problem he saw with the first RFP.
What Kirk is proposing, he said, took off two layers of restraint. The new RFP, Tobey added, will show the city what the marine industrial, water dependent market can do with that site, and gives the DPA restrictions on the lot another try. But, the parcel can’t stay vacant forever, he added. It’s been vacant for almost a half century, Tobey said.
“I don’t think anyone acquired it to be a parking lot,” Tobey said.
Gloucester bought the I-4, C-2 parcel for $1.5 million in June 2010, splitting the cost with the state through the state Seaport Advisory Council.
Steven Fletcher can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3455, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @StevenGDT