Roxanne Quimby, Owner of Historic Mayo Street Property, Petitions ZBA – 1/7/10

Carrie And Her Daughter Amanda O'Neil

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 357)

The City has  announced that wealthy businesswoman Roxanne Quimby, owner of historic property located at 10-12 Mayo Street, will be petitioning the Zoning Board of Appeals for a conditional use permit for a non-profit community center there; Thursday, January 7th, at 6:30 pm, room 209 of the Portland City Hall.

Her representative, Ms. Blainor McGough, will be asking the Board to change the use of the property into a “community center to serve the arts” as well as to relieve parking restrictions for the new arts center.   It is zoned R6.  The planned arts center is called –  Mayo Street Arts.

Roxanne Quimby purchased the property from Peoples’ Regional Opportunity Program (“PROP”) seveal years ago.  At the time, a representative of hers told MHN that Quimby intended to dedicate this historic building to the arts.  It was controversial at the time, because “A Company of Girls”, a nonprofit, had been based there for many years.  ACOG was forced to vacate the property because its purchase offer was  not accepted by PROP. For a time, ACOG was based at the former Adams School until it likewise had to vacate that premises.     ACOG  is still looking for a permanent base from which to run its award winning program for girls “at risk.”

In the intervening years since the vacation of ACOG from the Mayo Street property,  maintenance has been on-going at the Mayo Street property.  The exterior was repainted, siding was replaced and the roof as well.   Just prior to  vacating the property by ACOG,  a complete rennovation had occured inside the property.  It has stood unused since that time.  “I don’t think anyone knows what’s happening to the building.  They know  she’s (Roxanne Quimby) remodeling it, but that’s all, said longtime neighbor, Carrie O’Neil.  “We’ve been watching.  I’m glad they are doing something with it,” she said. “But I doubt there is anyone in this neighborhood who would be interested in it,” she added.  Her daughter, Amanda,  used to attend Head Start there.

Roxanne Quimby, has been a major player if not controversial player in the acquisition of large tracts of land in northern Maine.  Last year  she was profiled in YANKEE magazine in an article titled, “The Most Controversial Woman in Maine.”  It may be viewed on line in the magazine’s archives section.    She’s also caused controversy here in Portland when her acquired property in Longfellow Square was deemed exempt from certain assessments recently.

Quimby and her former husband founded Burt’s Bees which she has since sold.