NORWAY – A company owned in part by the Libra Foundation of Portland this week signed a purchase and sales agreement to buy the entire C.B. Cummings & Sons property for $300,000.

The old dowel mill and adjacent buildings now sitting vacant behind Main Street may soon be razed to make way for new townhouses and office space, said Libra Foundation President Owen Wells on Wednesday. Wells is a member of the board of directors of Norway Properties Inc., which is an independent, for-profit company that intends to buy the 4.6-acre mill property through EnterpriseMaine of Paris. He said work on the site could begin as early as next year.

EnterpriseMaine President and Chief Executive Officer Brett Doney said Wednesday that discussions have been ongoing with the Libra Foundation since last winter.

According to filings with the Maine Department of the Secretary of State, Norway Properties was incorporated Aug. 19.

The purchase price for the mill site is $300,000, Doney said. “This development exceeds our goals for the project. It will create substantial tax revenue. It will have a lot of new people living and working downtown with disposable income.”

Doney’s organization originally intended to clean up the mill buildings and market them to developers interested in creating everything from office space and townhouses to an arts or community center. One benefit of the latest change in plans is that the Growth Council of Oxford Hills now will be able to save thousands in grant dollars. Instead of spending two Community Development Block Grants totaling $750,000 on the building upgrades and site work, about $450,000 of the money will be used for other downtown redevelopment projects after the mill buildings are demolished, Doney said.

He said the growth council, which has spent $318,000 on the property to date, will take a loss on the mill sale. “We expect an out-of-pocket expense of about $350,000.”

Wells said a group including himself; representatives of Boulos Property Management of Portland, which is an affiliate of CB Richard Ellis/The Boulos Company; and other business leaders formed Norway Properties Inc. in an effort to address the state’s economic development needs.

“We started thinking about how could we help Maine in a different way,” he said. “You hear a lot about economic development, sprawl,” he said, “things that are bothering Maine towns. There are lots of studies, a lot of analysis, but not much action.”

Bridgton, Norway and Rumford all were considered as sites for a major redevelopment project before the C.B. Cummings & Sons mill property was chosen, Wells said.

The Libra Foundation has in the past been involved with developments including the Portland Public Market, parking garages and office buildings in Portland, and the Pineland Farms complex in New Gloucester.

“We’ve got to stop spending money on studies and analysis and start putting it into action if Maine is going to have a viable future,” Wells said.

Doney said the new housing on the mill site will be marketed toward empty-nesters and young professionals.

Leslie Flanders of the Norway Board of Selectmen, who has frequently called for some action on the mill site, said Wednesday he was happy to learn some development may be coming.

“Anything that will go over there will help the tax base in Norway,” he said.

The mill was founded in 1860 by C. B. Cummings and closed its manufacturing operations in 2002 because of overseas competition. At one time, the family-owned business was one of the town’s largest employers with about 200 workers.


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