NEWPORT DAILY NEWS - Portsmouth Waterfront Tract goes for $1.1 Million
By Derek Gomes
Daily News staff writer
Sep 26, 2018 at 7:39 PM
PORTSMOUTH - The winning bid
during an auction Wednesday for 43 waterfront acres was $1.1 million.
Once all financial
considerations are taken into account, the purchase price will eclipse $1.2
million, according to Justin Manning,
who ran the auction on behalf of Massachusetts-based JJManning Auctioneers.
who is the company's president and chief financial officer, declined to
identify who placed the winning bid, citing privacy concerns. He said seven
bidders, including five from Rhode Island and Massachusetts, participated in
the auction held at the site. The other two bidders were from the West Coast,
he said during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.
The site is sandwiched between
the Melville marina and boatyard to the north and the Weaver Cove public boat
launch to the south. The current owner is Melville Associates LP, a company
apparently associated with developer J. Brian O'Neill. In December 2006,
Melville Associates secured $14.1 million to purchase the site, according to a
copy of the mortgage.
The goal was to build the
"state's largest marina with room for mega-yachts, residences, shops,
restaurants and marine businesses," The Daily News reported in March 2007. The
site was approved for a 1,495-slip marina in October 1995, and O'Neill's plans
called for nearly 1,000 housing units.
His other projects in
Portsmouth, including the Carnegie Tower and Newport Beach Club, have come to
fruition, while the Weaver Cove site remains untouched.
In August 2014, the Army Corps
of Engineers New England District started a public comment period for a permit
application from Melville Associates to build and maintain a marina with 887
slips on Weaver Cove. The agency eventually withdrew the application because
Melville Associates did not provide additional information when prompted by the
corps, according to agency spokesman Tim Dugan. There are no active permits
pertaining to the property filed with the state Coastal Resources Management
Council, according to a CRMC spokeswoman.
When no one answered Manning's call for a $2 million
starting bid, he asked for $100,000, which sparked the bidding. Four of the
seven bidders accounted for most of the action, he said.
"There's a substantial
environmental cleanup [needed] at the site," Manning explained. "It will sell for the net value. The person is
willing to pay 'x' minus what the remediation would be and that leads you to
the final number. It could have gone higher if there were more bidders there,
but probably fell in the range we expected based on everything that is related
to the site."
The winning bidder signed a
purchase-and-sales agreement, made an initial deposit and has 30 days to close
on the property, a fairly straightforward process given the auction stipulated
that the winning bidder will assume the property as-is, Manning said.
Asked what the auction means for
the real estate market, he replied, "Whether people think the economy is
changing or not, you had some deep-pocketed, able developers that competed for
this asset and it's showing that things are fairly vibrant. And they're not
making any more waterfront.