On August 22, 2016, Our Katahdin was the sole bidder on the tax-acquired property at 230 Penobscot Avenue in Millinocket, also known in the community as the “Old Newberry’s”, “Epstein’s” or “Miller’s” building. Our Katahdin acquired the property from the Town of Millinocket in September 2016 for $2,000.
The revitalization of this historic downtown building is important. This cannot be another empty lot. However, this building has rapidly deteriorated over the past several years. There are a range of hazardous materials in the building that need to be remediated before serious development efforts can be undertaken.
Fortunately, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has provided strong support to Our Katahdin to undertake Phase I and Phase II brownfield assessments that have identified the hazardous materials inside the building, and the extent of their damage.
Upon completion of the Phase I and Phase II assessments, the owner then qualifies to apply for cleanup grants. There is a “Request for Proposals” issued by the federal US Environmental Protection Agency for brownfield cleanup grants up to $200,000.
Phase I Assessment (large file, loads slowly)
Meanwhile, we have conducted a commercial inspection to determine the structural integrity of the building. We prefer to retain and revitalize the historic structure of the building, rather than tear it down, and our goal is to restore the original facade hidden underneath the green paneling. Fortunately again, the structural assessment supports this strategy.
Upon completion of the Phase I, Phase II and structural integrity assessments, Our Katahdin applied for and won a brownfield cleanup grant of $200,000 that it is matching with another $40,000 for a total of $240,000 in available funds to remediate the hazardous materials in the building.
In 2017, Our Katahdin financed the replacement of all four roofs on the building at a cost of $110,000 that was paid for through cash contributions from the Board members of our Our Katahdin as well as a loan from the Katahdin Federal Credit Union. This roof replacement will stop the water damage and provide structural integrity for years to come. In early 2018, Our Katahdin is working with Brent Rollins to fix a sewer issue in the basement, and to reattach the roof drain into the sewer system, as previously it was not connected and simply drained in the basement. These important fixes will ensure no further toxic materials or water damage occurs in the building, and the subsequent remediation using EPA funds will fix the problems of the past -- thereby allowing us to move forward confidently into the future.
The current overall redevelopment plan for the 10,352 sq. ft. site includes subdividing the building into distinct uses. Our Katahdin is currently contemplating four potential uses of the building, of which 2-3 will be decided in the months ahead: (1) a shared co-retail space where vendors can purchase a small kiosk or booth to sell their products to the public, (2) a shared co-working space to serve entrepreneurs and small business owners who need professional office space but cannot afford to purchase an entire building to operate their business, (2) a community co-op space to be owned and managed by the community for the purposes they see fit and/or (4) executive residential apartments in the upstairs targeted toward business people who visit the region with frequency and would value accommodation located in the same location as the co-working space.
For 2018, our goals are to (1) fix the sewer and roof drain issues once and for all, (2) complete the remediation of hazardous materials in the building, (3) raise the funds necessary to replace the facade of the building and restore it back to its original state from the 1920's (as seen above). We can't wait to see those upstairs windows exposed to the world again! Our stretch goal is to have a grand re-opening of the building in 2019, pending our ability to raise the financing required. No later than 2020.
This highly visible, historic downtown building is perfectly suited to be a "center of gravity" for entrepreneurship and community-owned innovation that is taking place in the Katahdin region. Here’s where you come in. We need your thoughts and feedback on the way forward. We have posted all the documents we have online, so you know everything we know. See those documents above. We are in the process of deciding on which of the future uses of the building we should pursue.