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December 20, 2021

Pepperell Mill sale closes, giving ownership of refurbished Biddeford campus to Texas firm

File photo The sale of the Pepperell Mill campus in Biddeford, shown here, has closed. The new owner is the Presidium Group and its Maine partners.

The historic Pepperell Mill campus in Biddeford has officially changed hands in an acquisition by Texas real estate firm Presidium Group, whose local partners have long ties to Maine.

The total interior space of the sprawling mill campus is 1 million square feet in 16 buildings on 17 acres.

Presidium’s local partners, developers Chris Rhoades and Drew Preston, previously said in a promotional video on real estate crowdfunding site CrowdStreet that they agreed to buy the property at $80 a square foot.

Rhoades and Preston have been involved in other major Maine projects, including refurbishing military housing in Brunswick and buying the Time & Temperature Building in Portland.

Biddeford's historic mills originally manufactured textiles. The invention of automatic, machine-operated looms created the opportunity for the mass production of woven cloth. The mills were developed at the falls of the Saco River, because of the critical resource of water power.

The Pepperell Mill, the centerpiece of Biddeford, had been redeveloped by Doug Sanford, who owned the property for nearly two decades. Sanford acquired part of the complex in 2004 and the remaining portion of the complex in 2010 after the mill ceased operations the previous year.

The campus has 152 residential units that are 100% occupied, as well about 150 commercial tenants such as Portland Pie Co., Impact Fitness Center and Hyperlite Mountain Gear.

In the CrowdStreet video, Preston said the development team believed the rents for commercial space was currently 35% to 50% below market rates and residential units were about 30% to 35% below market rates.

In a recent statement, the team said "All existing leases will be honored, and any rent increases proposed as leases expire will be reasonable and well in alignment with the Biddeford market. We appreciate each and every tenant of the Pepperell Mill and look forward to working with them for many years to come."

Rhoades, Preston and their partner Presidium said they planned to further preserve the property’s history, while also creating an enhanced space for future urban development and smart growth.

“We are eager to positively contribute to downtown Biddeford’s renaissance by continuing to improve the mill’s campus,” Preston said in a statement.

Among the millions of dollars in planned capital improvements, the group plans to add a rooftop lounge overlooking the Saco River, a club room and physical upgrades to all buildings on the campus.

“Since the Pepperell Mill opened in 1840, it has placed the City of Biddeford on the map as a globally recognized center of industrial progress and innovation. We appreciate each and every tenant of the Pepperell Mill and look forward to partnering with them on their residential and commercial needs,” Rhoades said.

“This project is monumental as it will serve as a cornerstone for community members and future generations, as well as pay homage to the Pepperell Manufacturing Company legacy in which this campus was built upon."

In a nod to developer Sanford, Preston said “Doug is considered a pioneer for being the first to take on the redevelopment efforts of the mills nearly 20 years ago. His success saw other developers follow his lead, resulting in a renaissance of the Biddeford Mill district.” 

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