Bridge Street demolition makes way for new commercial opportunity

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Demolition of the Joel Batzell Bridges property, 103 Bridge St. in Farmington, started Thursday. New owners, Robert "Nick" and Rachel Nichols, are making way for a new commercial opportunity.

By Ann Bryant, Staff Writer

FARMINGTON — Demolition work started on the former Joel Batzell Bridges property at 103 Bridge St. Thursday.

Robert “Nick” and Rachel Nichols of Farmington have purchased the property to make way for a new commercial opportunity.

The town has inquired about a obtaining a license from the Maine Department of Transportation to potentially put in a small parking lot in the area between the property line and the bridge.

The state owns the right-of-way where the old bridge used to be, Steve Kaiser, code enforcement officer, said. A license for the town to use the space for a parking area would allow MDOT to still access the present bridge.

The one-time license discussed was for a minimal cost of $2,000 or less but the initial plan is a long ways from developing, he said. Kaiser does not expect any plans to progress until next year.

The Nichols tried to purchase the property in front as their property ends near the front of the building. “The state would not sell it to us,” Rachel Nichols said.

The town has discussed improving West Farmington for some time. Over the years, improvements on the east side of the bridge have taken place. Now, it would be nice to improve the west side of the bridge coming in to Farmington, he said.

The Nichols spent over a year trying to purchase the property working with the family and Probate Court, he said.

Bridges, known for his sometimes eccentric behavior, died on March 1, 2016.

It is a unique piece of property, bordering the Sandy River next to Center Bridge, but the building is a safety hazard, Nick Nichols said. Some transients have found their way in even though the town secured the front.

Demolition of the Joel Batzell Bridges property, 103 Bridge St. in Farmington, started Thursday. New owners, Robert “Nick” and Rachel Nichols, are making way for a new commercial opportunity.

(Ann Bryant/Franklin Journal)

They have received a couple inquiries from potential commercial businesses but if these do not develop, they plan to sell the property, Rachel Nichols said.

“Something cool is trying to come in,” she said.

As the property is a tight space, a new building will likely have the same or a similar footprint to the old building. The river-side property has a grandfathered shape, Kaiser said about the slope down to the river.

The couple have several residential rental properties and decided to venture in to commercial space, Nick Nichols said.

They have purchased foreclosed properties and fixed them up to rent out, he said.

Nichols has served 28 years in the Coast Guard. He is an officer and on active duty, his wife said.

abryant@sunmediagroup.net

Demolition of the Joel Batzell Bridges property, 103 Bridge St. in Farmington, started Thursday. New owners, Robert “Nick” and Rachel Nichols, are making way for a new commercial opportunity.

(Ann Bryant/Franklin Journal)

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