Two sources interviewed about this month’s dump remarked that it’s “in limbo.” That’s an apt description of the state of the three-unit residential property on the corner of Cumberland Avenue and Mayo Street in Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood. Limbo is, in theory, at the edge of hell.
Greg Nisbet of Downeast Realty had the property on the market back in 2006, but is no longer listing it. He said it’s in the process of foreclosure, but that process is lengthy, and banks are concentrating more on short sales these days. “Foreclosing is pretty much on holiday right now,” said Nisbet, who did not know what bank is involved at present.
City tax records list the owners as Darrell Turcotte and Christopher Thiele of Carleton Street, in the West End. The pair no longer live there and could not otherwise be contacted for comment.
The tax records put the value of the property, built in 1890, at $227,300, but that may be a bit high. As one neighbor remarked, this building actually “looks a lot better on the outside than the inside.”
That’s a scary thought. The first-floor windows and doors are covered with plywood, and someone threw something through a bay window on the second floor. The tiny, fenced-in side-yard is strewn with trash and empty Heinenken bottles. An overturned chair soaks up the rain. Graffiti on the front announces this is a “crack house.” “Crack kills,” someone else wrote, “like god.”
The neighbor I spoke with is State Representative Ben Chipman, who bought a multi-unit building on Mayo Street next door to this dump in the spring of 2010. There was no one living in the dump that spring, but Chipman said he encountered a woman who’d previously been squatting in the third-floor unit with her boyfriend. Squatters were occupying the first floor apartment, as well, and, somewhat incredibly, the tenants on the second floor were still there, paying rent.
The city boarded up the property last summer, but before they did so, Chipman had an opportunity to do a walk-through. “All the walls on the inside were smashed up,” he said. “The railing on the stairway was ripped off, appliances were overturned, light fixtures were ripped out of the ceiling.” Chipman said a contractor estimated it’d cost as much as $100,000 just to get the interior in habitable condition. A possum is squatting there these days, Chipman said.
Given the fact he’s serving in the Legislature, we asked Chipman if there’s anything that can be done to address blights like this building. “Maybe something could be done to speed up the foreclosure process,’ he replied. “Put some sort of time limit on how long those can take.”
Until then, Chipman said, “it’s just sitting in limbo.”
— Chris Busby