2018-02-01 / Front Page

Lincoln Mill project held up by federal funds, weather

By Grant McPherson Staff Writer


Matt Assia, director of asset management for Chinburg Properties, said that of the estimated 150 apartments to be built in Lincoln Mill, roughly a third will be studios, a third will be one bedroom units and a third will be two bedroom units. The layout of apartments is designed to fit within the rhythm of columns and windows. (Grant McPherson photo) Matt Assia, director of asset management for Chinburg Properties, said that of the estimated 150 apartments to be built in Lincoln Mill, roughly a third will be studios, a third will be one bedroom units and a third will be two bedroom units. The layout of apartments is designed to fit within the rhythm of columns and windows. (Grant McPherson photo) BIDDEFORD – After freezing temperatures and federal legislation stalled exterior work along Lincoln Mill, developers and project managers are regrouping for construction to begin in earnest this spring.

The project, first announced in 2014, would include the construction of at least 90 market rate apartments, a boutique hotel, restaurant and bar, commercial space, fitness center, rooftop pool and office use.

The city council voted unanimously Tuesday, Jan. 16 to amend the joint development agreement between the city of Biddeford and LHL Holdings, LLC, with Councilors Laura Seaver and John McCurry excused and Councilor Marc Lessard absent. The amendment affirms that historic tax credits are an important aspect of the mill’s financing.

The U.S. House of Representatives version of the tax reform bill, signed into law on Dec. 22, 2017, included a full repeal of the historic tax credit. While the final version did not repeal it, financing for the Lincoln Mill project could not be secured until the historic tax credit was included in the final version of the tax bill. Because of this delay, the date which LHL Holdings, LLC must obtain building permits was moved from Dec. 31, 2017 to May 29, 2018. The date that the design, engineering and construction obligations of the agreement must be completed by was pushed back from Dec. 31, 2019 to June 30, 2020. Under the amended agreement, if LHL hasn’t obtained the necessary building permits by Aug. 29, it will donate $5,000 to the city for use in the downtown. That amount increases to $10,000 on Nov. 29 and $15,000 on Feb. 28, 2019. The cost of the building permits are a $60 application fee and $14.35 per $1,000 of assessed value, which for 17 Lincoln St. equals $30,773.58.


Top, Matt Assia, left, Chinburg Properties director of asset management, and Dennis Anglea, part-time property manager for the Lincoln Mill, on Jan. 18 in what will be the residential portion of the redeveloped space. The ceiling pipe behind them has been sandblasted, along with much of the mill’s interior walls and surfaces. Developers completed this work and the installation of a fire alarm system last year. Left, Lincoln Mill developers removed a piece of concrete to test the material beneath and ensure its structural stability. Anglea said that the concrete was likely poured in the 1950s or 1960s when the garage doors were installed in the buildings north side. Developers plan to remove the garage doors and use that side of the building as the mill’s main entrance. (Grant McPherson photo) Top, Matt Assia, left, Chinburg Properties director of asset management, and Dennis Anglea, part-time property manager for the Lincoln Mill, on Jan. 18 in what will be the residential portion of the redeveloped space. The ceiling pipe behind them has been sandblasted, along with much of the mill’s interior walls and surfaces. Developers completed this work and the installation of a fire alarm system last year. Left, Lincoln Mill developers removed a piece of concrete to test the material beneath and ensure its structural stability. Anglea said that the concrete was likely poured in the 1950s or 1960s when the garage doors were installed in the buildings north side. Developers plan to remove the garage doors and use that side of the building as the mill’s main entrance. (Grant McPherson photo) Matt Assia, director of asset management for Chinburg Properties, the residential and commercial development company partnering with LHL on Lincoln Mill, said he does not know how much money the historic tax credit will cover. Chinburg Properties completed renovation of Saco Mill No. 4 in spring 2017. The first 51 residents moved in on April 1 and all 150 apartments were rented at that time.

The planning board will vote to extend its approval of the amended site plan for Lincoln Mill to June 2020 at its next meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 7. So far the planning board has waived a total of 263 parking spaces for the Lincoln Mill redevelopment. Under city ordinances, the project would require 443 parking spaces.

“They have 180 off-street parking spaces available to them that they control,” City Planner Greg Tansley wrote. “The ordinance specifically allows for waivers in the downtown area due to the mixed use nature of development and the availability of on-street and off-street public parking, as well as alternative means of travel including walking, biking and transit.”

Part of the parking under LHL Holdings, LLC’s control includes the lot on the other side of Saco Falls Way, which members of the public and in particular customers of Mulligan’s use. Tansley said who is allowed to park there will be up to LHL Holdings, LLC.

Tim Harrington of LHL Holdings, LLC declined to comment when asked about the project’s financing and the recent delays that the project experienced. Harrington also has final say on the old clock tower that used to sit atop the Lincoln Mill. It is currently located behind the mill surrounded by chain link fencing. Harrington said he will hire a marketing firm soon to field questions from the media.

Assia said the scaffolding on the outside of the 150-year-old building that went up in December was put in place to repair mortar between the bricks. However, the scaffolding was taken down early as temperatures dropped significantly.

The National Park Service and Internal Revenue Service oversee the federal tax program, which offers a 20 percent income tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic, income producing buildings that the Secretary of the Interior deems to be certified historic structures. The Maine Historic Preservation Commission also provides a 25 percent tax credit to for all projects that are approved under that federal tax program.

“Congress took their time talking about tax reform,” Assia said. “Our team had to take a pause to see where that shook out. Now we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get back to it. This winter we are setting the table for a successful project later this spring.”

Contact Staff Writer Grant McPherson at news@inthecourier.com

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