October 5, 2012

Kennebec Arsenal owner gets 3-week lawsuit delay from Maine AG

By Keith Edwards kedwards@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- The owner and would-be developer of the Kennebec Arsenal has received a three-week reprieve from a Maine attorney general's office threat to sue him for not protecting the historic property from vandalism and deterioration.

click image to enlarge

The Kennebec Arsenal is across the Kennebec River from the State House in Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

click image to enlarge

The ornate window frames of a Kennebec Arsenal gate house remain over windows have been boarded up for years in Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Additional Photos Below

Tom Niemann, CEO of North Carolina-based Niemann Capital, said he has taken steps to protect and maintain the property, and has contractors lined up to start renovating Arsenal buildings one at a time.

A letter from the attorney general's office threatened a lawsuit if Niemann Capital didn't take steps by Oct. 1 to prevent further damage to the property, which has been struck by thieves and vandals.

However, no lawsuit has been filed since that deadline passed.

Brenda Kielty, spokeswoman for the attorney general, said the state and Niemann have agreed to a three-week extension for Niemann to respond.

Kielty said the extension will give both parties time to look at their options for the historic but neglected property.

Redevelopment of the project has languished since Niemann Capital bought it from the state in 2007, for $280,000, with a pledge of a second payment of $470,000 if and when construction starts on the site. That construction, and the corresponding second payment, haven't happened.

Niemann said Friday he had contractors ready to start "working building by building until the complex is finished and the community is happy."

He has employed a caretaker to clean up graffiti and maintain the grounds for the past year, he said, adding his firm is writing up a proposal to renovate the Arsenal one building at a time, which he plans to submit to the state within the three-week extension period.

Niemann, while acknowledging he hasn't been able to secure financing for the project, said he and his partners have invested some $33 million in Maine, including redeveloping the Hathaway mill in Waterville into the Hathaway Creative Center, which has 67 loft apartments and office space for multiple tenants.

Niemann said he sought a meeting with Gov. Paul LePage to discuss the Arsenal project. He said his request was declined.

Keith Edwards -- 621-5647

kedwards@centralmaine.com

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

The doors and windows of the the riverfront granite buildings of the Kennebec Arsenal have been boarded up for years.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

click image to enlarge

The doors and windows of the the riverfront granite buildings of the Kennebec Arsenal have been boarded up for years.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

 


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