JAY — After years of trying to revive and redevelop the historic Otis Falls Mill, the owners have sold it to a scrap-metal dealer.

Mary Howes and Tim DeMillo bought the 600,000-square-foot mill in 2009 after it was closed by Wausau Paper Corp. The new owners had hoped to bring life back to the property and preserve its history. Ideas over the years included a business complex and a banquet facility.

“We reached a point from a resource standpoint where we had gone about as far as we could go without serious investment or serious tenants to help offset the operating costs,” DeMillo said Tuesday. “We always knew from the day we bought it we’d probably reach that point unless we could put enough tenants in the building; unfortunately, that hasn’t happened.”

The sale closed Friday to John Clark III of Farmingdale, the owner of several scrap-metal companies. Clark formed MAC Development LLC for the purchase.

“I think it has development potential after these buildings are gone,” Clark said. “I’m not going to rush into tearing them down, but some of them are in pretty poor condition and ultimately that’s where they’re headed.

“A year ago there was a roof cave-in here,” he said. “Some of these buildings are pretty old. Their purpose has come and gone.”

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The Otis Falls Mill was built in the late 1800s and was at one point the largest mill in the world, Howes told a reporter when she and DeMillo bought it.

The property includes 22 acres and 3,500 feet of Androscoggin River frontage. The Mill St. Cafe on the property will stay, Clark said.

Clark has scrap-metal businesses in Hallowell, Chelsea and Montville. Some scrap is exported; some stays in the U.S.

“It all ends up at a steel mill somewhere and it’s all according to markets, who needs it, who’s willing to pay,” he said. “We plan on putting in a rail yard here at this Jay property; this could end up being a shipping point for the scrap for all our locations. That was part of the attraction for me.”

He’s still weighing the mill property’s potential and plans to take his time.

“I might view this as an insurance policy to keep my men and equipment busy for years to come,” Clark said. “It’s crazy to wrap your head around the history here. There’s so many museum-type of pieces.”

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He’d like to preserve some of it.

DeMillo said the property was never formally on the market. He and Howes have been friends and business associates with Clark for years and he had expressed an interest in buying the mill if and when they were looking to sell.

“It’s sad to relinquish the ownership of it,” DeMillo said. “It’s something I’ve lived and breathed for six years, but somebody is going to breathe some new life into the place, make something else happen. We certainly wish him all the best. I’ll do what I can to help him.”

Howes said she, too, wished MAC Development “the best of luck in their endeavors.”

Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said she hadn’t heard much about the new owner’s plans and was looking forward to hearing more.

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