Brewer News

Brewer inks agreement with Cianbro for mill site

10.31.2007 – City leaders and Cianbro Corp. have nearly completed a developer agreement to change the defunct Eastern Fine Paper Co. mill site into a manufacturing facility.

The parties have been working since January on the agreement that paves the way for redevelopment of the old mill locale into Cianbro’s Eastern Manufacturing Facility, which is expected to employ 500 or more highly skilled workers starting in April.

City councilors on Tuesday agreed to sign real estate and other related documents connected to the project.

“It ties up the property for them and … for us, what it does is that it guarantees that we get the development that we have planned,” D’arcy Main-Boyington, Brewer economic development director, told councilors before their unanimous endorsement of the agreement.

Main-Boyington also is managing director for South Brewer Redevelopment LLC and Old Mill Redevelopment LLC, the limited liability companies the city formed to take ownership of the site and protect Brewer from liability.

The developer agreement and option agreement are between the city’s two limited liability corporations and two created by Cianbro — Penobscot River Holdings LLC and Eastern Maine Properties LLC.

According to Main-Boyington, the agreement requires Cianbro to finish the environmental remediation at the 41-acre riverfront site, ensures a minimal investment level is met, and mandates that all grant matches are paid by the company.

“When the money runs out from our [cleanup] grants, Cianbro picks up and carries on,” Main-Boyington said.

The developer agreement has not been signed by Cianbro leaders but is expected to be cemented early next week, she said. The paperwork also ties Cianbro to the project, she explained.

“Cianbro doesn’t have the option to assign this to someone else,” she said. “That’s important to us.”

Main-Boyington added later: “They can’t change their mind and do recycling [for example]. We have sort of drawn a box around the property. We have the authority to stop them.”

If the company decides down the road to make a change of use, “it would have to come back to the planning board. It would have to come back for city approval.”

City leaders have been working toward changing the century-old mill site into a tax-producing entity since Eastern Fine’s doors closed in January 2004, and they are very pleased with the multimillion-dollar project that soon will be in place, she said.

“We’re getting what we’ve been looking for,” Main-Boyington said.

The city and Cianbro also are in the midst of discussing tax-increment financing.

“They will be paying taxes,” she said. When operational, the Eastern Manufacturing Facility’s tax bill “will put them in the top five businesses in the city, but it will not be at the top.”

The construction company, which is known around the state and the country, also has agreed to give the city added insurance for the project.

“Cianbro is going to add us to their AIG insurance, their environmental insurance, for the next two years, [which provides] some added protections,” Main-Boyington said.

Cianbro will continue to lease the property until all of the federal and state grant funds designated for the site redevelopment or cleanup are used, and then will purchase it from the city, Main-Boyington said.

Brewer has applied for three federal grants that will be selected early next year and awarded in June 2008, so until they hear word about whether the city has gained approval on those applications the company will continue to lease the land, she said.

She did not specify what the grants were for but said if the site were sold now to Cianbro, the project would lose access to those grant funds, which total in the millions.

“I think this puts us in a good place,” Main-Boyington said.

A copyright story from the Bangor Daily News, October 31, 2007.