BAR HARBOR — Terms for the sale of the idle international ferry terminal from Canada to the Maine Port Authority (MPA) have been ironed out. A sale is imminent, according to town officials.
The MPA has been in talks with Canadian crown corporation Marine Atlantic to acquire the property since the spring of 2012. An agreement is now very close, Town Manager Cornell Knight told town councilors in a recent memo. Before taking control of the terminal, however, the MPA wants more information regarding financing, operations and business opportunities at the site, Knight said.
A proposed $111,000 study to explore such issues was approved by town councilors Tuesday. The town and the MPA or the Maine Department of Transportation will each pay $48,000 toward the study, while the chamber of commerce here will contribute $15,000. Bermello, Ajamil and Associates (B&A), the group responsible for the cruise ship study several years ago and now working on the parking garage feasibility study, would lead the project. The town’s portion would come out of cruise ship funds.
B&A has already performed several studies of the ferry terminal property, and has received a total of $200,000 for their work. One previous study, completed in January 2012, explored the feasibility of turning the ferry terminal into a cruise ship berth and reported that a profitable case could be made for such a project, even while development expenses would top $16 million.
Among other items developed by B&A in previous studies are a detailed feasibility and market study and an initial business plan. The proposed $111,000 study would provide more specific business and market opportunities, specific cash flow needs and projections, 5-year capital and operations budgets, a 36-month operational budget and evaluations of different operating models, along with other items.
Council chairman Paul Paradis, who also serves on the cruise ship committee and has been involved with the state’s efforts to acquire the terminal, said that as far as he has heard, a purchase and sale agreement basically has been drawn up and is awaiting signature. The study approved by councilors Tuesday would be an essential part of such agreement, he said.
“I’m told that this is a piece that needs to happen as part of a purchase and sale agreement,” he said. “I’m told that all of the terms are basically ironed out, they just need to get the purchase and sale drafted and signed.”
The B&A study would create an initial business plan within four weeks, with eight additional weeks following, including discussions with stakeholders, for completion.