In the fourth of a 6-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, social impact and job creation. Please join with us in celebrating The Mill at Dover-Foxcroft. A conversation with Arnold Development Group.
MEREDA: Describe the building and project.
Arnold Development Group: The Mill at Dover-Foxcroft, is a 60,000 sf historic complex that has been renovated to include housing, office space, data center, cafe and inn. The complex is located in the heart of Dover-Foxcroft and each building of the historic complex featured a different construction material from different eras with the Piscataquis River wrapping around 2 sides of the building.
MEREDA: What was the impetus for this project?
Arnold Development Group: We first discovered the buildings on a recreational visit to the area and asked to be included in the RFP process being conducted by the town of Dover-Foxcroft. Our vision to the proposal aligned perfectly with the town’s vision and the collaboration began. We worked closely to support the efforts of the Town, PCEDC and CEI to identify programs to make the project financially viable.
MEREDA: That sounds like quite a process. How long were you in the planning stages before construction started?
Arnold Development Group: The planning process lasted 5 years and the construction lasted 1 year.
MEREDA: Tell us about the most challenging aspect of getting this project completed.
Arnold Development Group: The coordination between the various financing programs and entities utilized to complete the renovation was particularly challenging from a scheduling perspective. The installation of the geo-thermal system along the river in the dead of winter presented some hurdles to overcome. The replacement of 427 windows to meet the State and Federal Historic Requirements was challenging, but the views to the Piscataquis River was a suitable reward. The actual building construction process went very smoothly due to the expertise of Wright-Ryan Construction, and under the field supervision of Dave Sickles.
MEREDA: Something unexpected you learned along the way was….
Arnold Development Group: All of the apartments were leased before construction was finished, which was a real validation of the need for quality housing in walk-able rural neighborhoods. The support we received from the town and the residents of Dover-Foxcroft provided us the motivation to see the project through to the end.
MEREDA: Now that it’s complete, what feature of the project do you think makes it the most notable?
Arnold Development Group: Prior to construction, when you arrived in downtown Dover-Foxcroft there were looming empty buildings with broken windows that hailed to a previous era of prosperity. Now when you arrive downtown the complex is bustling with activity, year round residents, new business being launched and an inviting inn and cafe overlooking the gorgeous river. It is an honor to work on a single project that has such a positive effect on an entire community.