Camden Tannery Park proposals: Learning/entrepreneurial center, affordable and workforce housing, community space and park

Mon, 10/26/2020 - 9:00pm

    CAMDEN — Big ideas are flowing from developers and community members for the former Apollo Tannery site, and now Tannery Park, on Washington Street, in Camden. The deadline for proposals was Oct. 21, and four packets arrived at the town office, each taking a different tack on what to do with the beleaguered piece of town-owned property.

    Camden circulated requests for proposals last month, following more than a decade of grappling with property abandoned by a former tannery factory and acquired by a tax lien. It is collecting all proposals and information relating to the RFPs on this municipal web page.

    Millville Apartments

    Northland Enterprises, LLC, is a commercial real estate development and management company based in Portland, and founded in 2001 by Rex Bell and Bobby Monks, is proposing to build workforce housing on the open land, for which the company would pay the town $85,000 to acquire.

    Northland would team up with Dovetail Consulting and form a new LLC for the venture.

    “We are proposing a high quality new-construction workforce housing building featuring an elevator and amenities such as a fitness room and community room,” the proposal reads. “We are aiming to construct up to 50 new apartments (the exact unit count will be determined by a combination of parking ratios and financial aspects of the available funding programs). The centerpiece of our proposal is a three-story building designed by Archetype, Maine’s premier designer of medium to large multifamily residential projects. Our proposed conceptual design reflects the New England character of Camden and is sensitive to the surrounding neighborhood with traditional clapboard siding and a gable roof with dormers.”

    The new LLC would invest approximately $13 million into the project.


    The proposal states the project would:

    “Bolster the Town’s stock of quality workforce housing

    “Build on the efforts and investment that Camden has made to clean up and redevelop the site

    “Improve the western side of the site in order to provide a long-term home for the popular Camden Farmer’s Market in the warmer months and area for an ice rink in the winter months

    “If it is possible to fit onto the site, keeping the farmers market’s needs in mind, add amenities that will attract members of the community to the site such as a new public playground designed for children in the kindergarten through 4th grade age group

    “Install modern site stormwater management featuring vegetated swales and filtration to control and clean the runoff to the Megunticook River

    “Bring the property back onto the municipal tax rolls

    “Make the site even more picturesque by removing blighted conditions and improving the street frontage along Washington Street with new sidewalks and parking while preserving the old-growth trees that line the street

    “Leverage millions of dollars in federal and state funding sources to invest in Camden

    “ Bring a wide variety of people to the site for recreation, shopping and living


    The Tannery Park proposed development consists of several features, and has been submitted by Michael Mullins of Rockland, operating as Cranesport LLC. The development team includes Architect Joseph Rusillo, urban designer Russell Preston, and environmental engineer Mike Burke.


    Estimated costs of this proposal are $2.48 million, plus $250,000 spent on site acquisition.

    “Tannery Park is a proposed industrial eco-village on the bank of the Megunticook River,” the proposal said. “The project is an affordable industrial village, made of locally sourced, sustainable materials using simple, economic construction and focused on three primary ‘active’ uses:

    A Common Market

    Light Industrial Incubator Spaces

    An Event Venue

    “The purpose of this affordable industrial park is to foster entrepreneurship by offering workshops and spaces at affordable rents, below the market cost for purpose-built, freestanding commercial buildings,” the proposal states. “Tannery Park will offer flexible lease terms to support startups that have outgrown the proverbial ‘garage’ and are in the prototyping or early production phase, but are not yet ready to move into larger, purpose-built industrial space requiring a multi-year commitment.”

    The design includes:

    • A Public Plaza that will be the permanent home for the Camden Farmer's Market. The Plaza will host a variety of community events in addition to the Farmer's Market throughout the year.
    • A Gateway Lawn and Greenway that preserves the existing trees along Washington Street as well as an open lawn that will help to open up the site to the west, creating a natural gateway into this area of Town.
    • 19 Workshops for makers, artists, and entrepreneurs to support economic development in Camden.
    • A central Barn and Event Center.
    • Parking for easy access to the workshops and the river.
    • Restoration of the riverfront and riverwalk.
    • Facilities and utilities to support the Farmer's Market.
    • Public seating and landscaping near the River.
    • Pavilion for publicly accessible restrooms.
    • A central trash and recycling building.


    The plan also calls for restoration of the Megunticook River, enhancing its habitat for aquatic organisms and fish passage, and making way for recreational users of the waterway.

    Tannery Park Community Proposal

    This proposal was submitted by the Friends of Tannery Park is a community-based group of committed and energetic citizens of Camden, who have been working since August of 2014 to create an official Town of Camden Park on the site of the former Apollo Tannery.

    “Parks are a tangible reflection of the quality of life in a community,” the proposal said. “They provide identity for citizens and are a major factor in the perception of quality of life in a given community. Parks and recreation services are often cited as one of the most important factors in surveys of how livable communities are.”

    The Friends of Tannery Park want Camden to retain ownership of the land, and they want the Midcoast Chapter of Habitat for Humanity to get approval for constructing affordable housing there as part of the entire project.


    “This proposal is inspired by the findings of Camden’s Tannery Work Group that met for over two years with three community-wide meetings,” the proposal said. “The Tannery Work Group reached a consensus on a framework that could guide the Town to achieving the final goal of a multi-use Town Park.”

    The Friends propose the town pursue grants to help with the funding, and that other community fundraisers be held to build a financial resources for the project.

    Major Elements of the proposal include:

    The Friends of Tannery Park is proposing that Camden officially declare Tannery Park and town park, and include community space there: “that can offer many recreational, social, and educational, uses to the citizens of Camden (list to follow below). Future additions to the Park will be built in a phased sequence over time as fundraising goals are achieved for each new feature. Donations will be sought thru individuals, businesses, and grants. In addition, the Town received a $200,00 EPA environmental remediation grant that can be applied to costs for some of the groundwork.”

    The Friends of Tannery Park is proposing neighborhoods. See the Midcoast Habitat for Humanity proposal below for two or three homes.

    The Camden Farmers’ Market is also a collaborative partner in the proposal.

    “They will separately negotiate a multi-year lease with the Town of Camden for their Saturday and Wednesday markets. Their presence at Tannery Park for the last three years has proved to be a great success for the Farmers and the community as a whole,” the proposal said.

    Midcoast Habitat for Humanity homes

    The Midcoast Habitat for Humanity chapter is proposing that the town donate land suitable for three residential lots.


    In turn, Midcoast Habitat would build three single-family affordable homes, ranging in size from 1,200 to 1,500 square feet. The homes would be one to two-stories in height, with two to four bedrooms each.

    “They would be constructed to a high level of efficiency and minimal maintenance to ensure low utility costs, healthy houses and sustainability,” the proposal said.

    Development costs of each house would be $135,000 to $155,000, with a typical market value of approximately $235,000.

    Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at; 207-706-6657