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Camden gets proposals for Tannery Park property

By Susan Mustapich | Oct 20, 2020
Source: Cranesport LLC A proposal for the Tannery Park property from  Michael Mullins Cranesport LLC shows workshops for entrepreneurs and a year-round home for the Camden Farmers Market. It is one of several proposals anticipated by the town of Camden.

Two proposals submitted to redevelop the town-owned Tannery Park property would transform the 3.5-acre lot into either an affordable housing complex or an eco-friendly makers-space village with workshop buildings, a large barn and an outdoor plaza.

A third proposal to be submitted Oct. 21 is for a multi-use community park with recreational uses, a pre-school playground and two to three small lots for homes to be constructed by Midcoast Habitat for Humanity.

A home for the Camden Farmers' Market is a component of all three proposals. The Riverwalk is excluded from any development.

The deadline for submitting proposals was originally Oct. 16, but was extended to Oct. 21, according to an Oct. 15 email from Planning and Development Director Jeremy Martin.

Martin's email mentions that a fourth proposal may be submitted Oct. 21. Proposals are uploaded to the town's website as they come in.

Millville Apartments

The Millville Apartments proposal to build workforce housing offers to pay $85,000 for the lot, and build a three-story apartment building with 35-50 apartments and an elevator. One, two and three-bedroom apartments would target households earning from $24,000 to $42,000, depending on the number of family members. The building's design would reflect elements of the New England character of Camden including traditional clapboard siding and a gable roof with dormers.

The west side of the property would be secured for the Farmers' Market for a $1 annual lease payment to the town. Lot improvements include a new lawn for the Farmers' Market, a new playground if space allows, an improved sidewalk along Washington Street and parking for residents and visitors to the market. Environmental cleanup and retaining the trees lining Washington Street are components of the proposal.

The principals for Millville Apartments are Joshua Benthien for Northland Enterprises LLC and Andy Jackson for Dovetail Consulting LLC. The $13,040,000 estimated cost of the project is to be funded through a combination of MaineHousing tax credits, subsidy, debt financing, grant money and TIF funds.

Jackson's redevelopment experience includes six projects that incorporated environmental cleanup, including Huse School Apartments in Bath and Lofts at Saco Falls in Biddeford, plus eight additional multi-unit buildings in New York City and Maine.

Benthien, the developer, is chief executive officer and managing partner of Northland Enterprises, a commercial real estate development and management company based in Portland.

Cranesport LLC proposal

This proposal transforms the Tannery Park property into a village with a 4,850-square-foot barn and an 7,500-square-foot open plaza, for a year-round farmers' market and an event venue. Possible events are described as outdoor films, weddings or a fire and ice festival.

The village includes 19 workshop buildings, for makers, artists, and entrepreneurs. The barns and workshops will be constructed with locally sourced, sustainable materials using simple, economic construction, according to the proposal.

Developer Michael Mullins of Cranesport LLC calls the proposal an "industrial eco-village on the bank of the Megunticook River."

The purpose is to create an affordable industrial park to foster entrepreneurship by offering workshops and spaces at below market rents, with flexible lease terms, according to the proposal. The objective is to support startups that have outgrown the garage-stage, but are not yet ready to move into larger industrial space with longer-term leases.

The development includes a parking lot, greenspace, ice skating, a pavilion for public restrooms and improvement of the Washington Street sidewalk. Greenspace includes lawn, tree-lined areas and restoration of the east bank of the Megunticook River, where chemical contamination was found in October 2019.

The riverbank restoration provides the potential to construct a model habitat for brook trout and other fish species, according to the proposal.

Cranesport LLC is proposing to pay $250,000 for the property, with those funds then used as a local match for the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grant Program, funded by the U.. Environmental Protection Agency. This grant will be used to remediate chemical contamination and restore the riverbank.

The development will have a minimal environmental footprint, according to Mullins, using existing concrete slabs or soil cover to deal with residual chemicals on the property. The work will not involve digging and moving large amounts of soil.

Mullins is the principal developer, with a team composed of Maple Street Design Studio of Camden and Inter-Fluve environmental engineering. The estimated cost of the project is $2.5 million dollars. His experience includes redevelopment of Massachusetts Mills III/Picker Building in Lowell, Mass. the Boston Clutchworks Site and working with the City of Providence, Rhode Island to develop a long term strategic vision for the 560-acre Woonasquatucket River corridor.

Tannery Park Community Proposal

This proposal will be submitted by Friends of Tannery Park, a community-based group of citizens of Camden, who have been working since August 2014, to create an official town park on the site.

The Park will provide a home to the Camden Farmers' Market, and be developed to offer multi-use community space for recreational, social, and educational uses. These include a natural playground for pre-school age children, an environmental study meadow, a bicycle skills pump track, pickle ball and basketball courts, a pavilion for open-air events, the Farmers' Market and an ice skating rink.

These developments to the Park will be built in a phased sequence over time as fundraising goals are achieved for each new feature, according to the proposal. Donations will be sought through individuals, businesses, and grants. Funds remaining in a $200,00 EPA remediation grant to the town can be applied to costs for some of environmental work needed.

The Friends of Tannery Park is proposing both the Camden Farmers’ Market and Midcoast Habitat for Humanity as collaborative partners. The Farmers' Market would negotiate a lease with the town for its Saturday and Wednesday markets.

Midcoast Habitat for Humanity would be sold an appropriate space for two to three affordable homes, according to the proposal. The space designated would be adjoining the existing homes along Washington Street. Midcoast Habitat for Humanity would administer the building, marketing and sale of the homes following their formula for providing affordable homes that fit into existing neighborhoods.

The Friends of Tannery Park has been working for the past six years through a community process, to prevent the sale of Tannery Park to a private developer, according to the proposal. The ultimate goal of their endeavor is to establish a multi-use community park with ownership of the property retained by the town.

The proposal has over 20 letters of support from Camden residents, according to Friends member Tom Resek.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Ben Ellison | Oct 26, 2020 09:04

I've read all four proposals and also attended a Zoom presentation given by the Cranesport LLC team (which has set up a web site called CamdenTanneryPark.com). So far I think that the Cranesport plan for affordable and attractive work spaces along with year round Farmers Market / community activity spaces is by far the best use of the Tannery property I've heard over all the years we've been discussing it.



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