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January 4, 2019

The Waters project on Saco Island may have new developer

Courtesy / Saulnier Development
Courtesy / Saulnier Development
The Waters at Saco Island project includes condominiums, retail space, a hotel, restaurant, marinas and river walk. Saco developer Bernie Saulnier has optioned properties on and adjacent to the project to a Massachusetts developer.

Saco developer Bernie Saulnier's ambitious $40 million Saco Island development project, The Waters, is on the verge of being handed over to a Massachusetts developer who began investing in southern Maine real estate eight years ago.

The Courier reported that Marblehead, Mass., developer Ted Moore has received an option from Saulnier to purchase 5.8 acres on the east side of Saco Island, adding that he also has taken on development of Unit 91 on the west side of Saco Island, a former mill building that's also owned by Saulnier.

Moore told the newspaper he plans to pursue majority ownership of Unit 91 and of a third Saulnier property, Building 2 at 110 Main St., which is adjacent to Unit 91.

Saulnier, who heads Saulnier Development in Saco, is part of a partnership that bought the 5.8-acre east-side parcel in August 2017, with plans for a $40 million development of the vacant land for residential units, commercial space, a hotel, open space, a riverwalk and marina. Since then, he's held community meetings and met with the city regarding the project, which he called "The Waters." He originally planned to break ground in 2018.

In May 2018, Saulnier bought Building 2, The River Gate, on the west side of Saco Island, and planned to invest in upgrades like new signs, paving and striping the parking lot, new paint, new lighting with LEDs and a new HVAC system, and remodeled bathrooms. The building was 95% occupied by offices and retailers at the time of purchase. Building 2 is one of approximately a dozen mill buildings on the west side of Saco Island — which is also known as Factory Island — dating back to the 1800s. Saulnier subsequently bought Unit 91, a portion of the mill building that extends off the back of The River Gate.

The Courier reported that Moore's plans for Unit 91 have shifted from the original idea of a multi-use renovation with the possibility of a restaurant or commercial space to a project that would be strictly residential.

It also reported that Moore's option to buy the property tied to The Waters project is contingent on receiving approvals needed for development.

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