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Updated: July 27, 2022

Skowhegan’s downtown Spinning Mill to have new life

Courtesy / Nova Concepts As shown in a rendering, the proposal for Skowhegan's vacant Spinning Mill calls for a ground-floor Bigelow Brewing production site and up to 50 apartments.

Driving into Skowhegan, one of the first things you see is a substantial mill building — with four stories and at 80,000 square feet, it’s hard to miss. It's expected to become at least a $10 million to $15 million redevelopment.

The Spinning Mill, at 7 Island Ave., was part of Skowhegan’s textile-manufacturing history. But like many riverside mills across New England, the building has sat dormant in recent years.

It was once home to the thriving Maine Spinning Co. At its height, from the 1940s to the 1970s, the mill had 300 employees and produced up to 2 million pounds of yarn per year.

Courtesy / Dash Davidson
Skowhegan's Spinning Mill today

The building has been largely vacant since 2005, until being bought in 2017 by Jeff and Pam Powers, owners of Bigelow Brewing. Their hope was and still is to have a substantial brewing presence on the first floor — with brewing, canning and a retail brew pub.

But for the overall transformation of the mill, they’re turning to a partnership with some experience in revitalizing historic buildings.

Enter Dash Davidson and partner Max Patinkin, who run Bangor-based High Tide Capital. They recently completed the redevelopment of 2 Hammond St. in Bangor. They have two other building revitalization projects going on in Bangor and another that’s just about to start. 

With an introduction from Heather Johnson, the Maine commissioner for economic and community development, the High Tide Capital team met with the Powers.

The High Tide team is formulating plans for a makeover.

“We are historic developers who focus exclusively on restoring underutilized historically significant buildings in downtown locations,” said Davidson, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native who has a residence in Bangor.

The building would include the ground-floor brewing operation, 45 much-needed apartments on the upper floors and, potentially, a boutique hotel of 10 to 15 rooms. It would also have a 10,000-square-foot roof deck.

The mill redevelopment has been talked about for a number of years. But now with the partnership of Bigelow Brewing and High Tide Capital, the project is expected to get key backing in Skowhegan.

The project has not yet gone before the town's zoning board.

Jeff and Pam Powers have been running Bigelow Brewing on Bigelow Hill Road in Skowhegan since 2013. It’s expected that having the brewery as an anchor in the downtown will bolster projects in the works, including a planned river park and river walk, as well as other downtown projects. The brewery would be an anchor of sorts for the downtown, helped by the longstanding reputation of Bigelow and the Powers.

“In terms of local partners, they’re amazing. They are stalwarts in the community. They know everybody,” Davidson said. "They run an amazing business."

For all of the buildings High Tide Capital has done or is doing in Bangor, it has worked with the Bangor office of First National Bank. Ben Sprague is the vice president of commercial lending. With Bangor projects, Coastal Enterprises Inc. has played a role in helping get historic tax credits.

In Bangor, High Tide has worked with WBRC Architects. On this project, it will likely work with Connecticut architect De-Jan Lu. Nova Concepts handled the renderings. Orono-based Pike Project Development will be the general contractor.

The Skowhegan project will be the biggest undertaking yet for High Tide Capital.

“This is the largest and most ambitious project. It’s going to be so beautiful — the mill is really going to come back to life,” said Davidson.

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