[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

Schedule a Visit

Nulla vehicula fermentum nulla, a lobortis nisl vestibulum vel. Phasellus eget velit at.

Call us:
1-800-123-4567

Send an email:
monica.wayne@example.com

October 16, 2018 at 8:30 am

The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Saco Mill #4

In a multi-part series, exclusive to the Maine Real Estate Insider, we’ll provide an up-close look at the most notable commercial development projects of the past year that are helping to fuel Maine’s economy in terms of investment and job creation.  MEREDA is proud to recognize responsible development based upon criteria including environmental sustainability, economic impact, energy efficiency, difficulty of the development, uniqueness, social impact and job creation.

Please join with us in celebrating Saco Mill #4.

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

Jen Chinburg, VP of Marketing, Chinburg Properties:   Saco Mill #4 is a mill redevelopment project that created 150 market rate apartments and 30,000 square feet of leasable commercial space. The project was an adaptive re-use of a long vacant mill building situated on Saco Island in the Biddeford-Saco Mills Historic District. The development team restored the mill to National Park Service standards.

The building is about a quarter of a mile long with four floors. It commands a strong gateway presence atop the hill on Factory Island.

The 4-story, 240,000 square foot 19th century mill was acquired by an affiliate of Chinburg Properties in December 2014. Construction began in September 2015. The apartments were completed in two phases, with the first 93 apartments completed on April 1, 2017 and the remaining 57 apartments completed on June 1, 2017. The project is noteworthy due to its sheer size, its recognition of the strong demand for downtown living outside of Portland, and the joint efforts of the developer, the City, and the developer’s financing team led by Maine-based Camden National Bank and Coastal Enterprises, Inc. to make the project a reality.

Saco Mill #4 was the last remaining undeveloped mill building on Saco’s Factory Island. Redevelopment efforts stalled a number of times over the last 30 years. As a result, the building suffered from neglect and exposure to Maine’s harsh weather. As with many historic rehabilitation projects, the costs to restore Saco Mill #4 exceeded conventional economics. The team utilized federal and state historic preservation tax credits to close the financing gap. In addition, the City of Saco provided additional support through the designation of the development as a Tax Increment Financing District (“TIF”).

Recognizing the challenge of heating 19th century buildings in Maine, the developer worked with Unitil to bring natural gas to Saco Island. The developer installed new building systems to the restored building and many energy efficiency considerations.

This project has added approximately 250 residents who now live, work and play in the heart of downtown Saco and Biddeford. The mill is ideally situated between the two downtowns for exceptional walkability. It is also a stone’s throw away from the Saco Transportation Center for the Amtrak Downeaster and local bus routes for easy commuting and travelling by Saco Mill #4 residents.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project?

Jen Chinburg, VP of Marketing, Chinburg Properties: We have a passion for renovating old mill properties (this is our 15th historic mill renovation is New England) and we understood that this would be an amazing opportunity to impact the city of Saco and to have a highly visible mixed-use community to replace a decaying and underutilized structure. We knew that with our experienced team we could successfully handle a project of this magnitude, and we couldn’t resist the challenge to develop it in a way that would breathe new energy and give new life to the building and its surrounding environment.

MEREDA:  That sounds like quite a process.  How long were you in the planning stages before construction started?

Jen Chinburg, VP of Marketing, Chinburg Properties:  The planning, financing and permitting process took about 12 months to successfully complete. Once we broke ground it took about 18 months to residential occupancy with all of the amenities in place.  The building was so large that on certain days the site supervisor walked up to 10 miles traversing the different floors and areas of the building.

MEREDA:  Tell us about the most challenging aspect of getting this project completed.

Jen Chinburg, VP of Marketing, Chinburg Properties:  The project is noteworthy due to its sheer size, its recognition of the strong demand for downtown living outside of Portland, and the joint efforts of the developer, the City, and the developer’s financing team led by Maine-based Camden National Bank and Coastal Enterprises, Inc. to make the project a reality.

Saco Mill #4 was the last remaining undeveloped mill building on Saco’s Factory Island. Redevelopment efforts stalled a number of times over the last 30 years. As a result, the building suffered from neglect and exposure to Maine’s harsh weather. As with many historic rehabilitation projects, the costs to restore Saco Mill #4 exceeded conventional economics. The team utilized federal and state historic preservation tax credits to close the financing gap. In addition, the City of Saco provided additional support through the designation of the development as a Tax Increment Financing District (“TIF”).

MEREDA:  Something unexpected you learned along the way was. . . 

Jen Chinburg, VP of Marketing, Chinburg Properties:  The enthusiasm of the Saco community was refreshing. From city officials, to business leaders to non-profits and chamber executives, we felt very welcomed to become key members of the local community. The property manager for the building is from Saco, and he has done an admirable job building and cultivating positive relationships with our residents, neighbors and the broader region.

MEREDA:  Now that it’s complete, what feature of the project do you think makes it the most notable? 

Jen Chinburg, VP of Marketing, Chinburg Properties:  The apartments feature exposed brick and timber ceilings, beams and columns, polished concrete floors with radiant heat, kitchens with granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. The building also includes amenities such as a club room, roof-top deck, fitness center, dog wash & groom room, cyber lounge, café, and conference room. The commercial space at Saco Mill #4 includes Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and other locally owned small businesses.  There has been high demand for people to live at Saco Mill #4 and the apartments have been essentially full since the building opened. One of the favorite features for residents is that it is a dog friendly building. There are about 70 dogs peacefully and playfully living in the building. We recently completed a fenced in dog play park where pups can play off leash and residents can socialize and build their community. We celebrated with a “Hot” dogs and beer party to kick-off the opening of this unique and fun addition to the project.

Categories: Maine Real Estate Insider