The mill buildings overlooking the Piscataquis River in Dover-Foxcroft produced woollen and wood products for 163 years. Operations ceased in 2007, and the mill was abandoned. The windows broke, and birds made their nests inside.
Over the last six years, however, the buildings have been slowly turned into 22 residential apartments and space for businesses, including a hotel and cafe. They have a gigabit connection, which provides Internet at about 10 times the speed of most cable-based broadband connections. And people started to move in June 1.
After much anticipation, there will be an official — and public — celebration and opening at 10:30 a.m., Aug. 1, at the mill, said owner and developer Jonathan Arnold. In addition to speeches and a ribbon cutting, people will be able to take limited tours of the space.
The renovation is thought to be the largest private investment in Piscataquis County in decades. The $12.4-million project was financed with a combination of developer equity, historic tax credits, a construction loan from Coastal Enterprise Inc. and the Maine Community Foundation, and a combination of other grant sources and gap financing.
The construction — completed by Wright-Ryan Construction, with historic preservation consulting by Sutherland Conservation & Consulting — remained true to original architectural styles. The architect is Christian Arnold (of no relation to the developer).
“It’s like a restored piece of furniture that has the shine of when it was first built but every bit of character of the designers’ original intent,” Jonathan Arnold said.
All the apartments were originally leased, but a couple tenants changed their plans, Arnold said. That means some apartments are now available to rent. In addition, he is still signing up small businesses to rent the ground-floor space.
Weddings are also planned for the fall, as there are spots to hold a ceremony and reception. (If you want to hold one, contact Lauraine Piquette at 272-0902.)
The Maine Community Foundation and Coastal Enterprise Inc. — a Wiscasset-based organization that invests in small- and medium-sized businesses, especially in rural areas — produced the above video, which explains more about the redevelopment efforts and the people who will be living in the building.