Up for auction: one rambling vacant mill in Monson

Posted April 11, 2011, at 9:18 p.m.

MONSON, Maine — Machias Savings Bank has once again placed the former Moosehead Manufacturing Co. plant in Monson up for auction.

The auction of the buildings and land will be held at 1 p.m. May 5 at the plant.

The company has had a bumpy ride since 2007, when the long-term owners of Moosehead Manufacturing Co. announced they would close the Monson and Dover-Foxcroft plants because of the difficulty in competing against inexpensive foreign imports.

Not long after that announcement, Josh Tardy, a lawyer and then Republican leader of the Maine House of Representatives; Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and former Department of Transportation commissioner; and Rhode Island financier Ed Skovron purchased the Monson property and renamed the business Moosehead Furniture Co.

Months later, however, the new owners found they did not have the capital to weather the poor economy. The plant closed again. Just minutes before an auction was to held to liquidate the assets, Tardy and Connors filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and began working with the Passamaquoddy Indian Tribe, which had expressed an interest. When the tribe decided not to purchase the business, it was again scheduled for auction by Machias Savings Bank, the mortgage holder.

At the most recent auction last August, Louise Jonaitis of Portland submitted the winning bid of $1,050,000 for the property and equipment. When she learned there were some environmental questions involving the property, she renegotiated with the bank and purchased only the furniture and equipment, all of which was removed from the property.

The town of Monson and the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council were in discussions with Jonaitis to help secure a grant to address the environmental issues, but those discussions didn’t work out, Monson Town Manager Julie Anderson said Monday.

‘’The town is no longer pursuing grants for the purchase of the buildings and land at this time,’’ Anderson said.

Jonaitis said she would establish a retail outlet in Monson since the town was the heart of the furniture-making business. While she did take out a lease in the Monson Community Center, she has not yet opened the outlet. Anderson said she understood that Jonaitis would open the outlet this summer.

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