University of Maine System Trustees to consider authorizing sales of underutilized properties

Materials that include requests for approval to sell the Hutchinson Center in Belfast and buildings and land in Farmington are now publicly available in advance of a June 26 meeting

ORONO, Maine — A University of Maine System (UMS) Board of Trustees’ committee will convene next week to consider authorizing the sale of 24 acres of land and 50,000-square-feet of built space to generate revenue and savings to sustain student affordability.

At their June 26 meeting, the Board’s Finance, Facilities and Technology (FFT) Committee is expected to take initial votes on requests from the University of Maine (UMaine) to sell the Frederick Hutchinson Center (FHC) in Belfast and the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) to sell buildings and land. They will also consider several UMaine capital projects that will accelerate workforce development and bolster research in sustainable aquaculture and food innovation. 

The full Board would need to give final approval at their regular meeting scheduled July 14-15 in Orono for these proposals to move forward. 

Built in 2000 by MBNA and gifted to UMaine in 2007 by Bank of America, the FHC was once a vibrant hub for university education and community events in the Midcoast. Consistent with trends across the System and higher education nationally, enrollment for courses at the center has shifted online and no degree-seeking students have taken classes in-person there since 2020. Additionally, facility rentals did not rebound to pre-pandemic levels. 

UMaine has invested millions of dollars into FHC capital improvements and owes $885,000 toward an expansion completed in 2009. The property, including a 30,500-square-foot main building, 1,960-square-foot barn and 11.6 acres, is currently appraised at $2.52 million. 

Following two years of stakeholder engagement through which no financially sustainable future operating models emerged, UMaine closed the FHC in 2023 and issued a competitive request for purchase, lease or creative alternative proposals in January. If Trustees authorize the property sale, UMaine anticipates announcing an award in late July and completing the transaction this fall. 

Meanwhile, UMF hopes to sell two unused parcels adjacent to its downtown Farmington campus totaling 12.5 acres, as well as a house being used for office space and a commercial property comprising 17,500 square feet. 

If authorized, revenue generated from these sales would fund construction of a new facilities management building on campus, save UMF at least $35,000 annually in operating costs and result in a net reduction of 11,000 square feet. 

Materials for the virtual public meeting, which will be livestreamed (External Site) starting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, June 26, are posted on the Board’s website

Right-sizing for the future part of strategic plan 

The FFT Committee will also receive a comprehensive report from System leaders on off-campus sites and centers. 

This review and the Belfast and Farmington sales are consistent with a commitment in the new UMS strategic plan to achieve fiscal and energy efficiencies by selling or leasing buildings and land that are unused or underutilized, typically because of demographic and higher education delivery changes. More than one-third of the System’s credit hours are now earned online. 

Property transfers generate savings to maintain affordable UMS education and improve essential infrastructure, while ensuring university assets can be repurposed to better benefit the public. For example, this month the University of Maine at Presque Isle announced it would sell its Houlton Higher Education Center (External Site) to an area nonprofit that provides services to individuals with intellectual disabilities. Earlier in the year, the University of Maine at Augusta sold four undeveloped acres to BangorHousing, making way for 50 new units of needed affordable senior housing. Trustees have also recently approved the sale or listing of property in Harmony, Presque Isle and Portland. 

About the University of Maine System

The University of Maine System (UMS) is the state’s largest driver of educational attainment and economic development. Established in 1968, UMS unites the state’s distinctive public universities including the University of Maine and its regional campus the University of Maine at Machias, the University of Maine at Augusta, the University of Maine at Farmington, the University of Maine at Fort Kent, the University of Maine at Presque Isle, the University of Southern Maine and the University of Maine School of Law, as well as the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center. Over the past two decades, the System has awarded 106,362 degrees and spurred and strengthened thousands of small Maine businesses through its world-class research and development activities. Working age alumni of its flagship, UMaine, earn more than double the state’s average median income. For more information, visit

Media Contact:

Samantha Warren
Director of External Affairs, University of Maine System
207-632-0389 /