SKOWHEGAN — The $15 million redevelopment of a historic mill in downtown Skowhegan suffered severe damage Tuesday as the Kennebec River rose to historic levels following Monday’s powerhouse storm.

Damages to the project are estimated to be in the millions, according to Dash Davidson, a principal in the Bangor-based High Tide Capital LLC, which owns the property.

“It’s safe to say it’s millions and millions of dollars of damage, and months and months of remediation, and frankly, rework in the impacted areas,” Davidson said. “It’s very devastating for the project, just as it is for the region.”

Plans for the 80,000-square-foot building on Island Avenue include commercial and restaurant space, a hotel and housing. Construction was expected to take around two years, Davidson said when construction began just over a year ago. And parts of the building were slated to open in the next few months, he said.

Now it’s unclear when the project will be completed.

“We’re certainly going to have to go backwards now to go forwards,” Davidson said.


A historic mill in downtown Skowhegan undergoing a $15 million renovation is seen last year, at bottom; and is seen on Tuesday, at top, as Kennebec River flood waters rise to historic levels and damage the property.

Zack Pike, the owner of the contractor for the project, Pike Project Development, said he thinks it will take three to four weeks just to clean up the mess. Then, it will be about four months to get the project back to where it was before the flood, he said.

The ground floor took the brunt of the damage. At one point, there was about 5 feet of water inside the building, evident by the water line left on the walls and windows.

Zack Pike, owner of Pike Project Development, stands near a 5-foot-high water mark Wednesday that marred windows in the basement of the former Maine Spinning Mill building in Skowhegan. A flood of the Kennebec River on Tuesday destroyed tools and building materials at the 7 Island Ave. building, which is part of a renovation project on the edge of downtown Skowhegan.

On Wednesday, as crews began to assess the damage, Pike climbed over stacks of “truckloads and truckloads” of damaged drywall and windows that were being stored in the basement. The water was strong enough to toss around dozens of 6-by-10 foot windows — which weigh at least 300 pounds, according to Pike.

“It all has to get thrown away,” Pike said.

Electrical systems were likely damaged, Pike said. Hand tools, plumbing parts and a picnic table were thrown around, in what was once an organized construction site. A thick layer of muck coated the entire floor, which Pike said will need to be scraped off bit-by-bit.

“All the sediment went to the ground” as the river flowed through, Pike said.


Outside, inches of the sediment muck — now frozen — caked the ground, and a large heating unit sat in a puddle several feet deep.

Zack Pike, owner of Pike Project Development, stands amid a destroyed window in the basement of the former Maine Spinning Mill building in Skowhegan on Wednesday. The basement was flooded with 5 feet of water when the Kennebec River flooded on Tuesday. The windows, tools, and other building materials at the 7 Island Ave. building were destroyed. The building is part of a renovation project on the edge of downtown Skowhegan. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

There were four propane tanks attached to the heating unit, Pike said. They were swept downstream.

As the Kennebec crested Tuesday afternoon in Skowhegan, water could be seen rushing over its banks and into the property, displacing large shipping containers and other construction materials outside the building.

One container rested precariously on a railing, and it appeared to almost fall into the river.

“Thank God it didn’t go over,” said Davidson, the owner. “That would’ve been terrible.”

The shipping containers are holding 80,000 feet of hardwood flooring, along with a variety of other materials, Pike said. He and his crew haven’t been able to open them yet, he said Wednesday.


The high-water levels forced town officials on Tuesday to close the Margaret Chase Smith bridges, which carry traffic on and off the downtown island past the mill. The river nearly reached the bottoms of the two bridges as it crested, but it was reopened Wednesday morning after the water dropped and it was cleared following a Department of Transportation inspection.

Electrical material, lights, fire alarm panels and 80,000-square-feet of hardwood were destroyed when flood water took over storage trailers, left, at the former Maine Spinning Mill building at 7 Island Ave. in Skowhegan, as seen on Wednesday. The building is part of a renovation project on the edge of downtown Skowhegan. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

While some homes near the river reported flooded basements, the Spinning Mill probably suffered the worst damage in town, according to David Bucknam, Skowhegan’s police chief and interim town manager.

“They got hit the hardest, being right there on the edge,” Bucknam said.

The last time the mill building flooded was in 1987, according to Davidson. That was following a storm that raised the Kennebec River to 240,000 cubic feet per second, according to National Weather Service data.

Several central Maine communities, including Augusta and Waterville, also saw flooding damage this week after the storm dumped inches of rain statewide on Monday.

As the cleanup begins in Skowhegan and across the state, Pike said he is hopeful the project can get back on track.

“We’re obviously going to try to recapture the momentum,” Pike said.

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