Electrical material, lights, fire alarm panels and 80,000-square-feet of hardwood were destroyed when flood water took over storage trailers at the former Maine Spinning Mill building at 7 Island Ave. in Skowhegan. Developers are seeking funding to get the renovation project on the edge of downtown Skowhegan started again. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

SKOWHEGAN — Somerset County commissioners approved a loan package totaling $200,000 on Wednesday to help the redevelopment of a former mill in Skowhegan get back on track after it suffered millions in flood damage from the Dec. 18 storm.

Commissioners voted unanimously to add $100,000 in county community benefit funds to a $100,000 loan already approved by the Somerset Economic Development Corp., the county’s economic development agency that operates somewhat independently.

The developer of the mixed-use Spinning Mill project, Bangor-based High Tide Capital LLC, has been seeking a mix of financial assistance from the state, Somerset County and the town of Skowhegan to be able to resume construction, which largely stopped at the end of January.

Plans for the 80,000-square-foot former home of Solon Manufacturing and Maine Spinning Co. at 7 Island Ave. include commercial space, a hotel, and both workforce and higher-end housing. Along with adding housing, the project will be a key part of a larger push for tourism in the region and will create more than a dozen jobs, developers have said.

December’s historic flooding caused an estimated $3.5 million to $4 million in damage, and the project’s insurance policy will cover about $2.5 million, according to Dash Davidson, a principal in High Tide Capital.

That leaves the project seeking at least $1 million in publicly funded loans and relief packages because the company cannot draw on its bank loan of approximately $15 million until the storm damage is repaired, Davidson said previously. No private lender would give a loan in this situation, he said.


Of all the government entities involved, the county has been the fastest to move to provide financing, which Davidson has said is needed urgently with work currently at a halt.

“Waiting for disaster programs and funds can be a waiting game. Waiting for insurance can be a waiting game,” said Christian Savage, executive director of the Somerset Economic Development Corp. “So, we looked at everything available.”

The loan, which will be administered entirely by the Somerset Economic Development Corp., comes with a 5% interest rate over 10 years, according to Savage. High Tide Capital will only need to pay interest, not the principal, in the first nine months. The developer also needs to submit a project completion plan, Savage said.

After considering the idea of a loan at their Jan. 17 meeting, county commissioners ultimately approved their contribution to it on Wednesday. Ahead of the vote, they raised concerns about the county’s potential liability, the developer’s other assets and the project’s urgency.

Though a loan funded by county dollars is not common, Somerset County partnered with the economic development corporation on a loan for Madison-based manufacturer TimberHP, Savage said.

Davidson called the loan “a great vote of confidence for the project,” but said his company still needs more financing.

The developer is also seeking a loan from the Skowhegan Economic Development Corp. and a tax increment financing agreement with the town. Selectmen have yet to take up those items at a meeting, and an agenda for their next meeting on Tuesday has not yet been posted.

President Joe Biden’s recent federal disaster declaration for the December storm opened up other relief programs, including low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, officials noted at Wednesday’s meeting.

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