2018-09-13 / Front Page

Developers of Lincoln Mill to pay $5,000 fine to city

By Abigail Worthing
Staff Writer


Construction continues along Lincoln Street as the Lincoln Mill developers, LHL Holdings LLC and Chinburg Properties, work to secure funding to begin work. The developers missed the Aug. 29 deadline to secure permits, but have assured the city that the project will continue. (Abigail Worthing photo) Construction continues along Lincoln Street as the Lincoln Mill developers, LHL Holdings LLC and Chinburg Properties, work to secure funding to begin work. The developers missed the Aug. 29 deadline to secure permits, but have assured the city that the project will continue. (Abigail Worthing photo) BIDDEFORD – While construction continues on Lincoln Street, the beginning of construction on the Lincoln Mill itself will be delayed again while finances are put in order.

Developers of the $40 million project, which at last estimate was slated for July 2020 completion, had until Aug. 29 to pick up building permits, the cost of which will be based on the final building valuation, calculated at the rate of $14.35 per $1,000, as well as a $60 application fee. Code Enforcement Director Roby Fecteau said on Sept. 4, developers missed that deadline. The developers must therefore pay $5,000 to the city of Biddeford.

Primary developer for the project, Tim Harrington of LHL Holdings LLC, formerly Atlantic Holdings LLC, joined Eric Chinburg of Chinburg Properties to develop Lincoln Mill. On Aug. 30, the day after the deadline to pick up permits, Mayor Alan Casavant received a letter from Chinburg detailed reasons behind the delay and assuring him that the project will continue as planned.

In his letter, Chinburg cites what he calls a “complicated financial agreement” and confirms that required appraisals have been completed. The city of Biddeford amended the original joint development agreement in March to include an extension that would allow the project to navigate the complicated waters of qualifying for historic tax credits. LHL was forced to reassess and secure a new property appraisal this fall after the possible tax reform left the historic tax credit status unsure. In the final version of the tax legislation signed on Dec. 22 by President Donald Trump, the program retains 20 percent tax credit for buildings built before 1936 but requires the credit be taken over the course of five years. By the time the credit was reinstated, the previous appraisal for the property was too old to secure financing. This required LHL to apply for an extension while waiting for a new appraisal, which can take between 12 and 16 weeks. The most recent appraisal values the property at $2.1 million. LHL Holding LLC purchased the property (as Atlantic Holdings LLC) on Jan. 16, 2015 for $2.5 million. While the original proposal for the mill included plans for an 80-room boutique hotel, plans have shifted to strictly residential.

“The details associated with the reuse of a historic mill facility combined with multiple funding sources have resulted in that part of the process taking longer,” Chinburg writes in the letter. “Our banks continue to work with us to shape a development loan agreement that will allow us to begin.”

As part of the missed Aug. 29 deadline, LHL and Chinburg will pay $5,000 to the city to be used in the development of the downtown, which Chinburg affirmed in the letter. Should the project fail to secure necessary permits by Nov. 29 it will be fined $10,000, and will be penalized a further $15,000 if not secured by Feb. 28, 2019.

City Manager James Bennett said it wasn’t a surprise that securing finances delayed the project.

“We knew that getting the finances together would take some time. It’s a complex package to work on,” Bennett said.

As for the construction on Lincoln Street, Bennett said it has less to do with the Lincoln Mill project and more to do with providing necessary improvements to the downtown. As part of the city’s revitalization project for the downtown area, improvements have been made along sidewalks on Main Street between Water and Adams streets, and will continue the project from Adams Street to Elm Street and down Lincoln Street to provide a streamlined aesthetic to the downtown. The city will also fix problems with septic and sewer systems in the area as part of agreements with the Department of Environmental Protection, a project for which the city has budgeted $1.36 million.

“There are four parts to this construction, and the first three don’t have anything to do with the Lincoln Mill project,” Bennett said. “Only one portion of the project is part of our joint agreement. I think people are assuming that this work is just for the project, and that isn’t the case.”

Despite the delay in permitting, Chinburg writes in the letter that Casavant “can be assured that the project is moving forward.”

“You should know that we are fully committed to seeing this project through and look forward to announcing to you that we’ve secured the necessary financial agreement,” Chinburg writes. “Our partners are fully invested in the project; the most obvious demonstration of that is that we own the mill. We appreciate Biddeford’s efforts to support the project.”

Contact Staff Writer Abigail Worthing at news@inthecourier.com.

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