The California company planning to open a $300 million data center on the site of the closed Millinocket paper mill says its next steps will involve cleaning up the 13-acre parcel of the mill site where it plans to locate its operation.
Nautilus Data Technologies announced earlier this month that it has signed a 99-year lease to run the 60-megawatt, cloud storage facility on the site of what once was the world’s largest paper mill.
Millinocket has struggled for years to attract a tenant to the site of the defunct mill that last made paper in 2008. Our Katahdin, the local nonprofit group that now owns the mill site, has characterized Nautilus as an anchor tenant that could attract other businesses to locate on the 1,400-acre site.
Nautilus’ data center is expected to bring up to 30 jobs to the area. The company’s first data center in the Port of Stockton in California opened earlier this year.
A company spokesperson said Nautilus’ next steps in Millinocket would be focused on preparing the site for construction.
“Permitting, detailed site evaluation, and site preparation work — there is a lot of debris removal [that] remains to be done,” Vice President for Marketing Ashley Sturm said.
There is also the question of what a tax arrangement between Nautilus and the town of Millinocket would look like. Towns often develop tax increment financing agreements with new businesses promising local investment. The agreements generally allow businesses a rebate on a portion of the local taxes they owe on new property value they create.
Currently Our Katahdin owns the mill site and pays property taxes. Nautilus will pay property taxes on the equipment at the mill site. It plans to use the site for cloud storage, and has lined up a handful of Maine customers.
Millinocket Town Council Chair Steve Golieb didn’t provide specifics on any potential tax plans but said he and the council were dedicated to negotiating a fair arrangement.
“We’ll do everything to make sure everything’s reasonable and fair in terms of achieving new development,” he said.
Sturm said there was no tax arrangement with Millinocket in place yet, and said the company would look into state tax incentives.
Our Katahdin President Sean DeWitt said that the group was finalizing its environmental study, examining soil samples on the plot that Nautilus had leased and doing a detailed site evaluation as part of the process of securing permits.