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Florida Developer, City of Portland Close on Land Sale

 PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ Portland officials say the city has closed on a sale of city-owned real estate to a Florida developer that will pave the way for a major mixed-used project.

    The Federated Companies purchased the land for $2.3 million. It plans to build 450 apartments and 87,000 square feet of retail space in the city's Bayside neighborhood.

    City officials say the developer can now start construction, which is expected to begin this summer and take three years. The developer, city and residents have wrestled for years over the size and scope of the project.

    Mayor Ethan Strimling says the new housing will help with a housing crunch in the city.

    The project first came up for debate some five years ago and was scaled down after a lawsuit delayed construction.