OXFORD, Maine — Developer Chuck Starbird is interested in buying the old Robinson Mill and on Thursday selectmen voted to have Town Manager Michael Chammings negotiate the terms of a sale.
Starbird has restored a mill in downtown Mechanic Falls, and Oxford selectmen are hoping he can do the same for the former woolen mill on the shore of Thompson Lake.
Chammings said he and Starbird will negotiate the price and other conditions, but said the town will keep the adjacent waterway and dam, which controls the water level of the lake.
Oxford foreclosed on the mill property in 2009 due to nonpayment of $244,920 in taxes over three years. Selectmen voted 3-2 to take possession of the 7.5-acre property after its owner, John C. Robinson, failed to make an $80,000 payment on an installment plan to pay off a $162,970.88 lien.
Last fall, the town created the nonprofit Oxford Economic Community Action Agency and transferred control of the mill to it in order to apply for a Community Development Block Grant for repairs.
The grant would have awarded the town $250,000 for a $50,000 contribution to stabilize the building and make it more attractive to investors. They didn’t get the grant. Chammings said he’ll meet with the group to transfer the property back to the town.
Selling the property is a chance for the town to recoup some of the $244,920 in taxes owed by Robinson, its former owner.
The woolen mill, which employed hundreds of workers in its heyday, was built in 1840 and purchased by John Robinson in 1849. It remained in the family until the town took possession.
After the mill closed in 2004, Robinson began plans to redevelop the property to become residential condominiums as well as commercial space, including restaurants and a textile museum. The property includes the three-story brick mill and a waste treatment plant.