The ongoing effort to repurpose the Old Town mill this week, with the announcement on Jan. 31 that the property has been sold.
The buyer – OTM Holdings, LLC – announced on Jan. 31 that it had purchased the mill complex from MFGR with plans to redevelop the site into a wood fiber-based complex comprised of multiple tenants. Terms of the sale were no disclosed.
“The acquisition saves this important asset from the demolition recently experienced at other shuttered mills and the innovative redevelopment program for the mill will have broad economic impacts for the region, provide jobs and support to Maine’s forest industry,” said MFGR partners Bob Maroney of Gordon Brothers, and Bill Firestone of CRG in a joint statement.
MFGR was the consortium that bought the mill in January 2016 after it had been closed in 2015 by former owner Expera. It was initially feared that MFGR would sell the mill for scrap, but the consortium instead agreed to work with city officials and other interested parties on redevelopment of the mill site.
“This is great news for the City of Old Town,” added Old Town City Council Chair David mahan. “The city looks forward to working with OTM Holdings LLC to get the mill site redeveloped. Most of all, the city wants to give a huge thank you to Bill Firestone along with all of MFGR partners for holding on to the site to make this opportunity happen. The city has worked hard over the last 2 years with MFGR promising that if they would keep this site intact we can get this redeveloped. Once again, thank you to all involved.”
Maine Senators Susan Collins and Angus King also lauded the sale of the mill.
“The planned redevelopment of the Old Town Mill will bolster Maine’s rural economy by encouraging growth and helping to create jobs,” said Collins and King in a joint statement. “By leveraging our state’s natural resources, building on our traditional industries, and supporting new, innovative ideas, we can help ensure a vibrant economy in Maine’s rural communities.”
According to a press release from OTM, the redevelopment program envisions a fully integrated fiber-based campus capitalizing on the mill’s energy platform and the region’s plentiful fiber supply.
“This redevelopment is the beginning of what many see as the newest market for Maine’s wood fiber, which transforms the cellulose-based, non-edible fiber and wood waste into clean and affordable high-value fuels, chemicals and milled and engineered wood products,” said the release.
A portion of the complex already houses the University of Maine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute (FBRI) Technology Research Center, which occupies a 40,000 square foot research facility in the Mill’s warehouse. FBRI is expected to continue its closely-related work on wood fiber’s next generation value-added products.
OTM is a joint venture by a Maine-based group of companies committed to the revitalization of Maine’s forest based industry. OTM spokesman Everett Deschesnes did not identify those partners but said more information is expected in the near future,.
“OTM LLC is talking to all people involved over last year and a half (in repurposing plans for the mill,” said Deschesnes. “”We’re busy closing on the deal and should lock it up this week. We’re working on strategic planning and want a clear path forward. Over the coming days and weeks, we’ll be getting our ducks in order and talking with a number of interested parties who have expressed interest in co-habitating at the mill with us.”
It is expected the mill site will employ about 100 people within three years as companies take up tenancy at the site.
In recent months, it has been learned that one possible party interested in the mill site was ConEd Solutions, which was working on a deal to supply steam and electricity generated at the mill to UMaine to help meet its energy needs; a trio of landowners with large timber holdings in Maine also had been involved, as well as the James W. Sewall Company and others. Deschenes said he could not comment if any of those parties were part of OTM LLC.
One current tenant at the mill property will remain on site – UMaine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute Technology Research Center, which occupies 40,000 square feet onsite. FBRI for the past several years has been actively working on projects such as generating fuel and chemical from wood biomass and last year did a 100 hour demonstration of its Biomass to Bioproducts Pilot Plant project.
The mill deal had been snagged because of a lawsuit by Samuel Eakin, an investor from Southern Maine who claimed breach of contract and other violations of the law after negotiations with him concerning the mill redevelopment were dropped. According to published reports, Eakin plans to file another suit over the sale of the mill in the near future.