PCEDC continues work on developing Dover-Foxcroft hotel

DOVER-FOXCROFT — Last fall the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council put out a request for proposals to develop a hotel in Dover-Foxcroft. The council identified two potential sites for development — the market prices for the parcels would be determined between the buyer and seller — with one being an undeveloped lot on West Main Street behind Community Health & Counseling Services and Penquis Rental and the other being any available lot within the Pine Crest Business Park off Route 7.

The PCEDC received interest but no formal proposals so a revised request for interest was sent out and is running through July 19, PCEDC Executive Director Angela Arno told the Piscataquis County Commissioners during a meeting on Tuesday morning, May 21.

Arno mentioned the original requests for proposals were sent out shortly before Thanksgiving, “So that was just poor timing on our part.” She said interested parties said as much, as none submitted a completed document.

The new schedule has been much more promising so far as Arno said since the new requests have gone out, “I have 15 emails, we have done three calls, we have two site visits planned, so this time we have had a great response.”

The schedule has site tours taking place in June with discussions with interested parties set for July and August. A development agreement would be finalized in September and/or October. After an agreement is finalized the process to design, permitting, and zone and construction would take several years.

According to the first proposal document, the PCEDC would like to have a hotel built in Dover-Foxcroft but neither the council nor the town wishes to develop or own the property. Rather, a developer would purchase a potential parcel for an exclusive use with deed restrictions. The vision/mission for this development is an upper-midscale, limited-service hotel that will serve the needs of a variety of stakeholders and demand generators that are directly or indirectly related to Piscataquis County. The building would have a minimum of 80 rooms.

The objective of this RFP was to identify a qualified and experienced developer which either has developed and owned hotels or will be in partnership with a hotel operator. PCEDC has elected to take this approach rather than using a more traditional real estate broker because of the uniqueness of the organization’s desire to influence the parameters of the development. It does not wish for development of any real estate category other than a hotel and the parcel acquisition would be contingent upon certain deed restrictions.

Arno said the PCEDC has also been busy with various brownfields projects. A brownfield site is a property that contains a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant that can hinder the potential to reuse or redevelop the site.

She said last year the council had a $500,000 brownfield assessment grant from the Department of Environmental Protection. “We have spent that, we have worked with 15 businesses or potential businesses,” Arno said. Assessments will document environmental risks so potential owners know what needs to be cleaned up.

A revolving loan fund is available through the PCEDC for brownfields. Arno said nonprofits are eligible for a 50 percent match while businesses can apply for low interest loans. She mentioned this was used for the redevelopment of the Mayo Mill in downtown Dover-Foxcroft a decade ago, which at the time had a 2 percent interest rate.

An ongoing brownfields project is at the Browns Mill site on the Piscataquis River. The former woolen mill and tannery on Vaughn Street along the Piscataquis River has five floors and around 65,000 square feet of usable space.

Last fall Arno told the Dover-Foxcroft Select Board there have been a number of “tire kicks at the mill as it’s been for sale.” She said a few negotiations ended up breaking down, as is common.

The PCEDC has been conducting a phase II brownfields assessment for more evaluations of the property to better position it for sale. If a buyer comes in they can potentially utilize $1.7 million through the council’s revolving loan fund with the EPA for cleanup.

The day prior an announcement was made that the PCEDC has been selected to receive $1 million through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, in addition to the $1,750,000 in EPA funds already awarded, because it has a high-performing RLF program with significantly depleted funds. The RLF program has successfully made loans or subgrants leading to six clean-up projects that are either completed or in progress.

According to the announcement, potential projects highlighted for use of the BIL funding include Erkkiworld Auto site in Greenville Junction and the former Braeburn Hotel in Guilford. Both cleanups will lead to commercial redevelopment of underutilized properties and the creation of jobs and services for these small communities. The BIL funding will extend the capacity of the program to provide funding for more cleanups in the most underserved areas in Piscataquis County.

Get the Rest of the Story

Thank you for reading your4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.