Vandalism at renovated Sanford mill ‘discouraging,’ but new tenants will move in on time

Posted Aug. 30, 2013, at 6:28 a.m.

SANFORD, Maine — Police will step up patrols in the Washington Street area and the city’s east side after vandals struck the newly renovated Sanford Mill over the weekend and again Monday night, damaging another Washington Street property and one on Spruce Street.

Vandals first struck the Sanford Mill on Sunday night, breaking two of the floor-to-ceiling windows in the brick structure, spray-painted “Freedom” and “Monay” on the brickwork outside and inside the building, and set off a fire extinguisher in an interior hallway. Damage is estimated at $7,000.

On Monday night, the glass in the front doors was broken. Also, a window was broken in a business at 6 Washington St., the former Sanford Trust building and at York County Community Action on Spruce Street, said Deputy Police Chief Tim Strout.

He said it is unclear if Sunday and Monday nights’ escapades are connected.

Strout said the Police Department is focusing on the area during patrols.

The vandalism to the mill, while discouraging, said owner Josh Benthien of Northland Enterprises LLC, won’t halt the opening. Some residential tenants of the newly renovated structure are planning to move in over the weekend, while the building’s commercial tenants, Saundarya Hair Salon and Day Spa and Gentiva, plan to move in this weekend and next week, respectively.

Benthien said security measures have been increased at the mill and cameras are in place. He said Northland Enterprises is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for the vandalism. Those with information should call the Police Department at 324-9170.

“These incidents are fairly common in large construction projects, but that doesn’t diminish our frustration,” said Benthien.

The brick structure was built in 1915 to replace the old wooden Goodall mills. After the demise of the mills in the 1950s, various companies occupied the 61,000-square-foot structure.

The revitalization project began some years ago and is seen as the cornerstone of Sanford’s mill development. The city — which was then a town — took the property by eminent domain from the previous owner over blight issues in 2008, environmental assessment and cleanup ensued, and the city sold the mill to Northland Enterprises, as originally planned, once that wrapped up.

There are 36 residential units in the mill, and on Wednesday, Benthien said all but nine had been leased. He expects the remainder to be leased by mid- or late September.

Renovation costs were pegged at $12 million. Financing includes the proceeds from the sale of historic tax credits, $3.7 million in federal Neighborhood Stabilization funds, financing from lenders and developer equity.

The Neighborhood Stabilization funding means eight of the units will be rented for less than $600 a month, Benthien said in a prior interview. The other units will range from about $900 to $1,200 a month, depending on the size.

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