OXFORD — After nearly four years as town property, Oxford has sold the former Robinson woolen mill to developer Chuck Starbird.
Starbird, who has been negotiating the sale since mid-August, will pay about $32,000 for the building, Town Manager Michael Chammings said at Thursday night's Board of Selectmen meeting. Starbird has put more than $150,000 into the building since August. The sale was finalized at around 5 p.m.
Chammings said Starbird has been renovating the building, as well as helping to pay for the removal of a wastewater treatment plant at the site. The site has received DEP approval, and Starbird is ready to put apartments and commercial space in the former mill.
“We wanted to make sure that the treatment facility was taken care of properly and that it wasn't an environmental concern, which we did,” Chammings said. He said the town also secured rights to the dam, which controls water levels on Thompson Lake.
Chammings said the building isn't on the tax rolls yet.
“You had to give some tax breaks on that, because nobody was going to take that building” while paying tens of thousands in taxes, he said. He negotiated a graduated plan whereby Starbird will pay more each year until, in three years, he begins paying the full assessed value at that time.
The town foreclosed on the former Robinson Manufacturing Co. in 2009, following nonpayment of $244,920 in property taxes accured over three years. Selectmen voted 3-2 to take possession of the 7.5-acre property after its owner, John C. Robinson, failed to make an $80,000 payment on an installment plan to pay off a $162,970.88 lien.
The woolen mill, which employed hundreds of workers in its heyday, was built in 1840 and purchased by the Robinson family in 1849. After the mill closed in 2004, Robinson began plans to redevelop the property to become residential condominiums as well as commercial space, including restaurants and a textile museum.
The town had been anxious to sell off the building, which Chammings said was in bad shape.
Chammings said Starbird did good work on the mill in Mechanic Falls, and he expected the same would happen in Oxford. “We don't expect ever to see it back,” Chammings said.