October 01, 2022

Brewer gets grant for waterfront plans

BREWER – The federal government has issued the city nearly a quarter-million dollars to help with its waterfront redevelopment plans.

U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins announced on Friday that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued $248,525 in funding to the city.

“I am pleased that HUD has recognized a need of the city of Brewer and responded to it,” Snowe and Collins said in a joint statement.

The city has been working on its ambitious Penobscot Landing redevelopment project for several years. The project runs along the Penobscot River from just north of the Penobscot Bridge southward to the Orrington line and includes the former Eastern Fine Paper mill property, now owned by the city.

“I can’t tell you specifically what it’s for yet, but that we plan to do some strategic acquisitions on the waterfront,” said Drew Sachs, Brewer’s economic development director.

The HUD notification states the funding is for the city’s shoreline stabilization project. Sachs said when the city originally made the request for HUD funds they were to be used for stabilization, but since applying, the city has secured funding for those costs and will now use the money to purchase land.

“We hope to finish the remainder of the [stabilization] work by late fall,” he said. “We believe it’s fully funded or very close.”

Planning for the 10-year riverfront project began in 2000 after residents identified it as a priority in the city’s comprehensive plan. The first step was to stabilize the river’s shoreline, a project, which began in 2003 after funding was acquired from the Maine Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Transportation and HUD, with matching funds from the city.

Initial plans for Penobscot Landing call for a walkway that runs the length of the project and connects to a shopping area near the Penobscot Bridge, a public pier, a marina, a children’s garden and the defunct Eastern Fine site.

The 1-acre children’s garden, located between Dead River Co. and the Penobscot River, was started last summer and should be complete this summer. The garden will include a hedge maze, several different types of gardens, a pond with a walking bridge and a story area with granite seating.

As part of the Penobscot Landing project, the city purchased the Nyle Corp. property at 72 Center St. for $375,000 in October 2004.

In January, a Minnesota-based developer unveiled his plans to redevelop the Eastern Fine site into The Mill at Penobscot Landing, which is a planned multiuse facility with housing, studio space, shopping, restaurants and entertainment.

Developer Michael Stern said he will incorporate the walking trail into his final plans for The Mill, which will be announced to the public in mid-March.

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