New owners of southern Maine plant envision stores, restaurants and more
SANFORD, Maine — Currently, the mill at 72 Emery St. is half occupied by tenants who grow medical marijuana, make cabinets, distribute food and sell guns.
The factory has new owners – Isaac Ellowitz, Justin Graves and Brian Weyland, of a new company called D-List, LLC – and their long-term vision means that the factory is fully occupied with stores, restaurants and other companies. With appropriate funds, they believe they can achieve this goal in about five years.
“There’s a bunch of things we need to do to go from half to full,” Ellowitz said in a recent Factory interview.
The mill needs a new roof, according to Ellowitz. Its masonry needs to be redone. More access to electricity needs to be installed.
However, one item on the long to-do list is just about ticked off, Ellowitz added. The factory had not had a functional elevator for several months. A new controller for the elevator, which will restore its operating capacity, was expected to be fully installed this week, according to Ellowitz.
That will be a big deal, Ellowitz said.
“We have businesses on the fifth floor,” he said last week. “They have to go up the stairs now.”
The mill itself has six floors in its largest section and four in its smaller, adjacent one. The sixth floor, which offers a panoramic view of the city, is currently unoccupied.
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New owners on the potential of the plant
Ellowitz, Graves, and Weyland formed D-List for the express purpose of becoming the factory’s new owner. They bought the mill from its longtime owner, Eric Stone, in April.
Ellowitz and Graves are longtime tenants of the mill. Both have on-site marijuana grow facilities – Westbrook Creek for Ellowitz and Salty Cultivations for Graves.
Although the two businessmen are licensed by the state to grow medical and adult-use marijuana, they currently only produce medical cannabis at the plant. In total, the mill is home to more than a dozen marijuana grow sites, according to Ellowitz.
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Ellowitz and Graves said it was their first time owning a property. The original owners decided to buy Stone’s mill for one reason only: to secure the future of their businesses. Stone was retiring, and the pair worried that they didn’t know their new owners and couldn’t be sure how the new ownership would affect their future.
“The best decision for us was to buy the building,” Ellowitz said.
New owners ready to take up the challenge
If they are discouraged by the rehabilitation of the historic mill that awaits them, they do not show it. During last week’s interview, Ellowitz seemed to enjoy the challenge.
“I love the mechanical systems and the engineering history,” Ellowitz said as he walked through a vacant space in the factory. “I even like the story of the screws. I’m like a mechanical junkie, you know. I look at everything here and I know people must have built it. People had to understand all of that to create this place. It was a feat of engineering. So now I can be here and play with engineering all day, that’s all I want to do.
Also, Ellowitz said he was already familiar with the plant.
“It’s a property I’ve been to almost every day since 2014,” he said. “I know the tenants of this building. I know the structure of this building. I have had a working relationship with the city since 2015.”
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It also helps that Stone has done its share of renovation and rehabilitation over the years, Ellowitz added.
“He left us in a really good spot,” Ellowitz said. “He left us with a group of people who are successful tenants and are able to pay the rent, which keeps this building running. Now we need to take the next step. »
Sanford Partner in Plant Revitalization
So far in the effort, Ellowitz and his colleagues have had one partner. The city of Sanford used part of its brownfields funds, provided by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, to help D-List complete a phase one environmental assessment of the plant before its official closure. on the property. The EPA’s Brownfields Program helps states and communities assess contaminated sites, clean them up, and find new uses for them related to economic development.
“We’re generally willing to pay for (assessments) if you’re in the area we’re working on, and that’s clearly in the area we’re working on,” Sanford planning director Beth Della Valle said. , referring to the city. ongoing efforts to revitalize the entire mill yard downtown.
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Della Valle said a phase one assessment is “essentially a paper exercise”, in which environmental experts review official documents that detail the history of a property, from its use to whether it is there has already been contamination or other problems at the site.
According to Della Valle, the recently completed phase one assessment by TRC Companies, of Scarborough and South Portland, said the history of the plant suggests possible contamination at the site, making a phase two assessment strongly recommended.
The second phase is when environmental officials roll up their sleeves, visit the site, take samples to the lab and perform other tasks, according to Della Valle.
Ellowitz said D-List is now seeking funding for phase two. During a recent interview, Della Valle said the city’s current brownfield funding is dwindling, especially as the city’s plan to clean up the CGA site on New Dam Road and convert it into a solar farm turned out to be an even bigger undertaking than expected. Still, Della Valle said City might still be able to help D-List with phase two at some point.
“I may have enough money, but maybe I don’t,” she said. “With phase two, I get a little more nervous because even though I have a cost estimate, you really don’t know what it’s going to cost until you’re on site. It’s like renovating a house.
Della Valle expressed confidence in Ellowitz, with whom the city previously worked when developing its regulations for the cultivation of medical and adult marijuana in the community several years ago.
“I know he makes a quality product,” Della Valle said. “It’s always a relief to know that someone – your partner on the other side of a refit – is going to make a quality product.”
Della Valle called the new developments surrounding the 72 Emery Street plant “quite exciting”.
“We’ll see where it leads,” she said.
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A new name
Ellowitz said he and his colleagues are committed to the factory they now own.
“We love this building,” he said. “We risked all of our income and businesses to get it, basically. We really wanted to continue to be here.
He and his partners even gave the place a new name: Mill 72.
“Keep it simple,” Ellowitz said with a smile.