DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Based on recent surveys, about 75 percent of Americans would trade their large lot suburban home for a smaller lot, townhouse or an apartment that was within walking distance of shops, a Missouri developer told Dover-Foxcroft selectmen Monday.
That statistic is one of the reasons Jonathan Arnold of Arnold Development of Kansas City, in partnership with the town, plans to redevelop the 85,000-square-foot former Moosehead Manufacturing Co. furniture plant located downtown. Plans are to convert the plant into a mixed-use facility that would include space for 24 rental apartments, a nine-room inn, a restaurant, cafe, business incubator, event space, and a data center, complete with plenty of parking.
Arnold noted that the plant overlooking the Piscataquis River is located near schools, the theater, shops, a hospital, and has access to nature, renewable energy, and the Three Ring Binder, a 1,100-mile fiber-optic network. Such amenities are of interest to people who are looking to downsize, and to the younger generation.
“We are thrilled to be part of a community that has such a great sense of strong community and has all of these assets,” Arnold said Monday. “We have this pent-up demand, if you will, for this type of walkable community” that doesn’t require a drive. It really is about achieving critical mass of things to do in downtown that will draw people from away to Dover-Foxcroft, the developer added.
Arnold said the project includes an upgrade of the hydroelectric power plant to 500 kilowatts.
“A couple of things are in place that are pretty hard to re-create: the dam, a perpetual Federal Energy Commission license and all of the gear and sluice-way and all of that stuff that just needs to be upgraded, and we have plans to do that,” he said. The geothermal and heating and cooling will be tied to the hydroelectric dam to provide the building with affordable heat and cooling, he stated.
Arnold said the partners have completed Part I of the Historic Tax Credit application, which will make the building eligible for the National Register of Historic places, and are now working on Part II of the application process. That process identifies what will be done to the building without affecting its historical value.
In addition, applications have been filed for Community Development Block Grants and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funds to help clean up asbestos and for other environmental work needed at the site. Arnold said a website would be set up later to let the public see the project’s progress.
If the grants are awarded, Arnold said construction likely would start next spring.
“There’s a significant gap that we need to fill through grants, and we believe we have identified those grants,” Arnold said.