Redevelopment of Former Great Northern Paper Mill Site Preserves History and Benefits Local Community
AUGUSTA, ME (September 27, 2023) – To spur economic development, the former Great Northern Paper Company mill site in Millinocket, Maine, is being transformed into a mixed-use development that will celebrate the site’s historic significance while simultaneously revitalizing the area for the benefit of the local community.
Operating from 1899 to 2008, the 1,400-acre Great Northern Paper mill was once the largest in the world. The establishment of the mill was a profound economic engine transforming a small farm into the small industrial city of Millinocket. The company built infrastructure, including housing, schools, and hospitals, to support its local workforce while also managing a vast network of timberlands, dams, and timber camps. The mill’s presence also fueled community pride and identity. Generations of Millinocket residents found a shared purpose and camaraderie in their work at the mill. In addition to being a vital part of Millinocket’s cultural and social fabric, the Great Northern Paper mill emerged as a crucial pillar of Maine’s economy, significantly contributing to the state’s growth and prosperity. Its success brought substantial revenue to the state, boosted exports, and provided numerous jobs directly and indirectly.
Recognizing the importance of preserving this heritage, Our Katahdin, a nonprofit organization that is driving the redevelopment project, called One North, is working diligently to protect the site’s historical significance so it can be preserved for future generations. This effort has been supported by Kleinfelder, an engineering, science, and construction services firm that is serving as the historic consultant on aspects of the redevelopment.
One of the first key objectives of the redevelopment was to remediate the buildings on the site in a manner that preserves their historical integrity and does not preclude potential future use of federal and/or state historic tax credits, which can be an incentive for potential developers. Ransom Consulting, LLC is leading the remediation efforts on behalf of Our Katahdin.
Working as team, Our Katahdin, Kleinfelder, and Ransom Consulting identified strategies to make redeveloping the historic site more attractive, including listing it in the National Register of Historic Places. With the former administrative buildings at One North listed in the National Register, future developers who undertake the rehabilitation of these structures can take advantage of these tax credits that can cover up to 45% of their qualified expenses, which significantly reduces the overall costs associated with development. In addition to benefitting developers, the listing supports the broader community’s interests in preserving its cultural and historical heritage.
“By reusing these important buildings through rehabilitation, the One North development pays homage to the industrial heritage that shaped Millinocket. It serves as a bridge between the past and the future, celebrating the town’s legacy while fostering sustainable growth and progress,” commented Kleinfelder Project Manager Kate Willis.
Ransom Consulting, LLC and Our Katahdin have successfully obtained multiple U.S. EPA Brownfields Assessment and Cleanup Grants. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and DECD have also provided cleanup grants and loans. Together, U.S. EPA and Maine DEP/DECD funding has been the first money contributed and has helped Our Katahdin better understand and quantify issues and quickly address those issues with the cleanup funding. “The partnership with Our Katahdin and its federal and state project stakeholders has facilitated fast-track environmental assessment and cleanup of the One North Campus,” commented Ransom Consulting, LLC Brownfields Program Manager Nick Sabatine.
With the site being redeveloped to attract a mix of businesses, including wood products manufacturers, technology companies, and aquaculture businesses that specialize in sustainably raising Atlantic salmon in land-based recirculating aquaculture systems, One North will create opportunities for economic development. The site will also include a new type of energy generation that uses innovative technology to provide an efficient and environmentally friendly solution for generating heat and power from biomass sources – it will be the first of its kind in the United States. There are also plans to re-establish the historic railroad on the site.
“The redevelopment of the former Great Northern Paper mill site, now known as One North, stands as a testament to the power of preservation and community-driven initiatives,” shared Our Katahdin Board Member and Vice President of Fundraising and Industrial Development Pete Malikowski “With its listing in the National Register of Historic Places and the implementation of innovative projects, the site promises to become a model for sustainable development, generating economic opportunities while honoring the legacy of the past.”
Kleinfelder. Bright People. Right Solutions. Founded in 1961, Kleinfelder is a leading engineering, design, construction management, construction materials inspection and testing, and environmental professional services firm. Kleinfelder employs more than 3,100 professionals and operates from over 105 office locations in the United States, Canada, and Australia. The company is headquartered in San Diego, California. Poised for growth, Kleinfelder continues to provide high-quality solutions for a diverse client base. For more information about Kleinfelder, please visit Kleinfelder.com or LinkedIn/Kleinfelder.