Harpswell Coastal Academy will go to auction on May 10. School officials expect the transaction to close in mid-June. (Stefan Keenan photo)
Harpswell Coastal Academy hopes to sell its building and campus at a public auction at 2 p.m., Wednesday, May 10.
“An auction will allow us to wind up the sale of the property efficiently, and without undue time delay,” said Cynthia Shelmerdine, chair of the Harpswell Coastal Academy Board of Directors. The May 10 auction will allow for a closing in mid-June.
“In practical terms, the timeline will allow us to vacate the property in mid-July and to meet our financial obligations,” Shelmerdine said in an email. “Selling on the open market would have required a multi-month contract with a broker, and continuing uncertainty about the sale.”
The auction will have a minimum bid, but it has not been set.
The property at 9 Ash Point Road encompasses 7.73 acres. The building dates to 1964, with a 1989 addition. Before Harpswell Coastal Academy, it was home to West Harpswell School, a K-5 public school that closed in 2011.
The building has seven classrooms, seven offices and seven bathrooms, as well as a gymnasium, kitchen, cafeteria and library, according to the online listing. The property boasts a baseball diamond and parking for more than 20 vehicles, as well as about 4.5 acres of woods.
Keenan Auction Co. Inc., of Portland, is handling the auction. A preview will take place from 1-3 p.m., Wednesday, April 26. Bidders must put down a $25,000 deposit. The winner will have 40 days to complete the transaction.
Stefan “Stef” Keenan, an auctioneer and broker with the company, said the property is generating strong interest.
Keenan expects the most likely use of the property to be residential development. He suggested that the land could be divided into at least four house lots. He said it is “questionable” what a buyer might want to do with the school building, although someone could convert it into housing.
Shelmerdine said that her “personal wish is that whoever buys the property will find an appropriate use for it — I hope one congenial to the town — will appreciate the setting, and will be a good steward. I regret very much that the site won’t continue to be Harpswell Coastal Academy.”
After the property auction, Keenan Auction Co. will hold an online auction for the school’s contents and assets, such as vehicles and outbuildings.
The online auction will run from 9 a.m. June 25 through 1 p.m. July 10, with a preview from 10 a.m. to noon on June 29. There will be no minimum bids. Buyers must pick up their items between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on July 11.
The auction will include two 2017 Ford Transit vans, two 2014 Chevrolet buses, a 2022 Kohler 100-kilowatt diesel generator, a greenhouse, a shed, more than 100 Apple computers, kitchen appliances, musical instruments and athletic equipment, according to the online listing.
Harpswell Coastal Academy, a public charter school for grades five through 12, will close at the end of the school year after a decade in operation. The Maine Charter School Commission did not renew its charter, citing a variety of concerns.
The town of Harpswell sold the property to the nonprofit Harpswell Coastal Academy Inc. for $150,000 in 2015. Harpswell Coastal Academy still owes $30,000.
In recent months, Harpswell Coastal Academy offered to sell the property back to the town.
Town officials balked at the $800,000 asking price. Harpswell Coastal Academy officials said the funds were needed to cover the school’s obligations, including debts and repayment of federal grants.
The Harpswell Select Board put the matter to voters, who overwhelmingly rejected the purchase.