May 21, 2018
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Plans for 24-unit Orono condo scrapped in favor of smaller development

By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff

ORONO, Maine — Plans for a 24-unit condominium building on the site of the former Webster Mill at the confluence of the Penobscot and Stillwater rivers have been scaled back.

The developer for the project has scrapped plans for one four-story building in favor of a cluster of seven single-story duplexes.

Developers Collaborative founder Kevin Bunker said Tuesday afternoon that plans changed earlier this year when Webster Point couldn’t presell the 12 units the bank required before it would finance the project.

“We had a lot of interest, but nobody really wanted something sight-unseen,” Bunker said, adding that some potential residents didn’t want to commit a year ahead of time to living in a facility that doesn’t exist.

“The market just wasn’t ready yet,” Bunker said.

The new plan for seven buildings, each with two units and garage space, allows Developers Collaborative to build the units as they’re sold. Bunker said he expects to break ground on the project in June.

“You’re probably looking at four [buildings] going up this year,” if not more, Bunker said.

The decrepit former Webster Mill building was torn down in August 2011 to make way for the condo project. The site has been home to various companies for everything from a sawmill to a newspaper producer to a steel products manufacturer.

The building had been vacant since 1993, when Striar Woolen Mill, which used the facility to recycle manufactured wool garments, went out of business.

The town and Developers Collaborative originally had hoped to restore the historic building, but it was too far gone, according to Bunker.

Bunker said he was “a little disappointed” when the four-story condo plan fell through.

“I think [the original plan] was much more of an intersting thing and a progressive thing, but I’m still happy for this new plan,” he said.

“It will be much more conventional,” Bunker said.

Town Planner Evan Richert said the town is preparing to transfer the title for the property over to Webster Point, LLC, either this month or next.

Plans for public walking paths and viewing areas near the river in conjunction with the construction project remain unchanged, according to Richert.

Bunker said the new plan will fit in well with the surrounding community and the walking paths will offer people in the Orono area more places to enjoy the scenery of the Penobscot and Stillwater rivers.

To view floor plans for the Webster Point Condominiums, click here.

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