2016-10-22 / Front Page

Take a tour through time

Developer opens doors to mill apartment project
By ALAN BENNETT
Staff Writer


Above: The living and dining areas in a sample 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment at the Saco Mill #4 complex under construction across from the Saco Transportation Center are pictured Friday. The mill, 30 years closed to the public, is playing host to an open house today. Right: Matt Assia, director of asset management for Chinburg Properties, looks out over the Saco River and Biddeford skyline from a tower apartment in the mill complex on Friday. When completed in April, the redeveloped mill building will house 150 market rate apartments. Above: The living and dining areas in a sample 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment at the Saco Mill #4 complex under construction across from the Saco Transportation Center are pictured Friday. The mill, 30 years closed to the public, is playing host to an open house today. Right: Matt Assia, director of asset management for Chinburg Properties, looks out over the Saco River and Biddeford skyline from a tower apartment in the mill complex on Friday. When completed in April, the redeveloped mill building will house 150 market rate apartments. SACO — Members of the public are invited to take a tour today of an $18 million apartment complex nearing completion in one of the city’s former mills.

Newmarket, New Hampshire-based Chinburg Properties is hosting an open house at its latest development project, a 150- unit apartment complex in the building known as Saco Mill #4.

Located across from the Saco Transportation Center on Saco Island, the building has been vacant for over 30 years, although it recently hosted the third annual Biddeford Ball in June. While construction is not yet complete, the company wants to show the space in its current state to showcase its progress and garner interest from prospective renters.

“Folks have been watching this project happen. There’s an interest in seeing it under construction,” Matt Assia, the company’s director of asset management, said Friday. “In the winter, it’s hard to sell apartments. The point is to get people excited about it now.”

Chinburg purchased the building in December 2014 for $600,000. The city granted the developer a Tax Increment Financing District for 80 percent of tax revenue for eight years and 60 percent for the remaining 22 years, capped at $5 million.

Renovation and upgrades to the 237,000-square-foot building have been projected to cost at least $18 million.

Once completed in April, the space will have 150 market rate units, with studio apartments starting at $875. Prices for more expensive apartments – those with more than one bedroom or bathroom – range upward of $1,595.

Chinburg has completed several successful mill redevelopment projects, most of them in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Assia said the company seeks out mill buildings because they are both scarce and attractive to renters.

“They’re beautiful buildings, and make for attractive living and working spaces,” Assia said. “They’re awesome for an urban lifestyle. You can walk out the door and downtown.”

But those living in Saco Mill #4 may not have to walk far to have all their needs met. In addition to apartments, Assia said, the building has 30,000 square feet of commercial space available for art studios, office space or maker spaces. There’s also 3,500 square feet for a potential restaurant at ground level.

The completed project will include fitness, bike, club and conference rooms, as well as complimentary Wi-Fi, heat and hot water.

Renters will be treated to exposed brick walls, high ceilings with sweeping timber beams and windows providing views of the Saco River and the skylines of both Saco and Biddeford.

Two people have already applied for apartments, Assia said.

Assia hopes people will realize all the twin cities have to offer upon moving in. He said such development projects make the area more of a destination for people, and will make them want to move to Biddeford and Saco.

“(The mills) are one of the assets of Saco and Biddeford you can’t take away. ... They’re endearing and enduring,” he said. “There’s a quality of life here people don’t realize until you come back to Maine.”

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or abennett@journaltribune.com.

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