Beer pioneer led the way for area’s craft brewers

Have you ever been curious about how the beer gets brewed at Saco Island? Then you are hereby invited to accompany master brewer Geoff Houghton on this behind-the-scenes video tour of the brewing process!

It’s hard to believe how far downtown Biddeford-Saco has come since the Summer of 2008, the year that Run of the Mill Public House & Brewery first opened. Back then, the MERC trash incinerator was still operating, and many scoffed at the idea of a brew pub with an outdoor deck along the Saco River.

Nobody’s laughing any more. Geoff Houghton, employing his top-notch brewing skills and a thoughtful recipe for what makes a successful community pub, has made the Run of the Mill a well-known landmark, and an incredibly popular meeting spot for the people of northern York County. If you love craft beer and spend any time at ROTM, sooner or later you’ll probably run into Geoff. If you ask him about beer, get ready for a lengthy and enthusiastic discussion!

Others in the area are now following in Geoff Houghton’s footsteps, including the Banded Horn Brewery Company, Barreled Souls Brewing and Funky Bow Brewery and Beer Company. Even a craft distillery, Round Turn Distilling, is operating in the mill district across the river in Biddeford. All of them are playing a meaningful role in bringing manufacturing back to downtown Biddeford-Saco.  As Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Maine Brewers’ Guild told the Portland Press Herald, “The rate of growth of craft beer in Maine is unprecedented. We’re entering the golden age of brewing here in Maine.”

Biddeford-Saco, in its own way, is becoming a Mecca for these craftspeople and their devotees. “So let’s raise a toast --- to Geoff!”

Class A office space coming to Saco Island

(Saco, Maine) Saco Island, LP announced today that a remarkable property with direct, deep water access to the Saco River will be developed as Class A commercial office space. (LEASING INQUIRIES:

The company released conceptual drawings to illustrate the plan, a major departure from original development plans announced in the Fall of 2006. At that time, the new owners of Saco Island were hoping to build luxury townhouses and a 40-slip marina on the eastern tip of the island that is strategically located between downtown Biddeford and Saco, and just down the hill from Saco’s Amtrak station. The property has a breathtaking waterfront view that has been hidden from the general public for decades, due to a dense tangle of brambles and underbrush that, until recently, has completely obscured the shoreline.

According to Sam Zaitlin, Saco Island’s director of development, the world recession in 2008 that put most of those plans on hold may have been a blessing in disguise.

“Frankly, there’s been a huge market correction in the housing sector, and we are fortunate that took place before we got started,” Zaitlin said. “Also, there was no way in 2006 to forecast the demolition of the trash incinerator in downtown Biddeford, and the explosive commercial development boom now taking place as a result. Given all those factors, we think building Class A office space on this gem appears to be the highest and best use.”

Zaitlin said Saco Island has met with several prospective tenants, all of whom have been taken with the stunning riverfront view and deep water access that is available right at the water’s edge. The company feels the site would be perfect for a hospitality tenant, or perhaps professional offices. He said Saco Island has shared the conceptual plan with Saco city officials.

“They’ve waited patiently, obviously, but I think they’re pleased with the shift. There’s a lot of new housing being built at the top of York Hill, plus all the new housing on the Biddeford side of the river. New commercial development will have no impact at all on Saco schools, a very good thing, and it builds long-term taxable value for the city,” Zaitlin said.

Zaitlin said Saco Island, LLP intends to develop the property itself, and is hopeful that public access to the shoreline can be incorporated into final development plans (see VIDEO:

A spectacular Saco improvement is getting started

The rapid transformation of downtown Biddeford-Saco keeps making headlines in Maine and across the region, but one of the most startling changes, still yet to come, is likely to catch almost everyone by surprise.

For generations, traffic on lower Main Street in Saco has whizzed up and down York Hill with most drivers not giving a second thought to the significant piece of property that lies on the east side of the hill. That view has always been obscured --- nobody knows what’s there, because you can’t see it from the road. It’s actually several acres of valuable and beautiful waterfront land, with direct access, right at the shoreline, to deep water in the Saco River. We cleared a portion of this property this Fall, in preparation for commercial development.

Sam Zaitlin is Saco Island’s Director of Development, and he recently shot some video so that you can get a better idea of what the view is like. As he explains, Saco Island is beginning to make plans for this extremely important property, and we recognize that how we develop this land will impact the future of downtown Biddeford-Saco for generations. The question of public access is a principal consideration. Folks on both sides of the river have been working very hard to make the downtown districts “walk-able,” including Saco Island. A couple of years ago, along with our good friend Doug Sanford at the Pepperell Mill Campus, we made the private land concessions necessary to make the new River Walk Bridge a reality, the key ingredient of a successful public/private partnership.

As development plans for the east side of the island begin to coalesce, please rest assured that we’re thinking about public access. With the right combination of imagination and good planning, the east side of Saco Island will be a critical community asset, right in the heart of downtown Saco.

Good momentum at Saco Island

Development activity continues apace at Saco Island with the recent announcement that Springvale-based Southern Maine Regional Planning & Development Commission (SMRPDC) will be occupying new quarters on the Island toward the end of this month (October).

Long a fixture in the Alfred/Springvale area, SMRPC's new location will provide a more centrally located focus for the agency's York County-wide constituency. The move further reflects a recognition that the Biddeford-Saco area has become the center of growth and economic activity in Southern Maine.

All of us at Saco Island take this opportunity to welcome our new neighbors and wish them continued success in fulfilling their mission. Saco Island’s on the move!

Gourmet fare at the Saco Island Deli

If you find yourself finishing a meeting or other business at Saco Island, and your stomach's growl is telling you it wants to be fed, here's a suggestion to satisfy that hunger while enjoying the beauty and tranquility of the flowing Saco River.

You owe it to yourself to enjoy the made-from-scratch, gourmet cooking of owner/chef, Mark Claussen. A graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Mark is an award winning caterer (At Your Service Catering) whose selections emphasize healthy eating and a taste you won't find at just any deli or restaurant in the area. Saco Island Deli, located on the first floor in the main building, has been a staple of gastronomical delight for more than a dozen years now. Their Turkey Rueben has been voted one of the Best Sandwiches in Maine.

Order your sandwich or salad, or in cooler weather your cup or bowl of soup, and walk out back and grab a bench by the river.  Now relax, look out across to the Biddeford side, and enjoy your stay by the mighty Saco. How can you beat it? Saco Island today.

Expect downtown Saco to look very different very soon

This is a photo taken from Rumery's Boat Yard in Biddeford. In the background is some of the most valuable undeveloped land in downtown Saco --- 6 acres right on the water, with deep water access right at the shore!

This is a photo taken from Rumery's Boat Yard in Biddeford. In the background is some of the most valuable undeveloped land in downtown Saco --- 6 acres right on the water, with deep water access right at the shore!

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of blog entries by Sam Zaitlin, a former Saco mayor, well known business person, and now, Saco Island's "point man," leading us to the completion of redevelopment on Saco Island. Sam may be reached at 207-615-7491, or at THIS E-MAIL ADDRESS.

Major change, the sort that dramatically alters the economic, social and cultural landscape of a community happens infrequently, perhaps on the order of once every 50-75 years.

What's taking place now in Biddeford-Saco, with the redevelopment of historic mill buildings along with renewed downtown activity in both communities, is the logical culmination of events that had their origin as far back as the 1950s.

Today, hundreds of thousands of square feet of old mill buildings on both sides of the river have been renovated and updated to provide much needed housing, office space, lofts and retail space for dozens of new tenants and businesses, including restaurants. At Saco Island here on the Saco side of the river, more is on the way, and it's really quite exciting.

This is what we call Building 7, adjacent to the Run of the Mill Public House, and situated quite nicely along the Saco River. This is prime office space, ready for the client who desires a high profile location in booming downtown Biddeford-Saco.  

This is what we call Building 7, adjacent to the Run of the Mill Public House, and situated quite nicely along the Saco River. This is prime office space, ready for the client who desires a high profile location in booming downtown Biddeford-Saco.


Let's start with the long-vacant structure at the top of York Hill known as Building 4. Sometime after Labor Day, Chinburg Properties from Newmarket, NH, will begin the process of turning that building into roughly 150 market-rate apartments with all the expected amenities plus 50,000 sf of commercial space.

Imagine the positive impact that will have on shops and restaurants in both communities, bringing hundreds of new customers to our downtown areas and businesses! At the same time, here at Saco Island, we're undertaking several new initiatives aimed at more fully developing our project.

Take the six-acre riverfront parcel directly across the street from the hugely successful Run of the Mill Public House & Brewery. With trees and vegetation now fully grown out, it's hard just driving by to fully appreciate what a stunning view down-river is afforded from this vantage point. But imagine: a medical arts building, an adult care facility or a first class restaurant sitting nearest the river, with a dramatic view down the Saco as you enjoy a glass of wine with your favorite meal.

And lastly, immediately behind the Pub we're hard at work finding the right tenants for two stand-alone buildings that sit beside the river and offer Class A office space. Think of spending your work day with a view of the running Saco River. If it's nice weather you can even sit outside on benches along the river while you take a break or enjoy your lunch. Isn't that a nice amenity to offer your employees?

These are just some of the highlights of what's to come. Welcome to the new center of York County--Biddeford and Saco. See you by the river.


The flourishing night life of Biddeford-Saco

That’s what re-development brings to downtowns, folks --- life and ENERGY! And ever since we Run of the Mill opened in the Summer of 2008, it has been one of the hottest dining, drinking and entertainment spots in northern York County. If you missed “Bar Guide: Beer made on premises helps make Run of the Mill special,” check out the comprehensive article published by the Portland Press Herald in March. It did a really great job of capturing “the vibe” that people find so cozy and comfortable here on the banks of the Saco River.

As we hit full stride here in the holiday season, we figured this would be a good time to remind you that for live entertainment and other fun events to spice up your holiday gatherings and reunions, The Run of the Mill Public House & Brewery is always a solid candidate for consideration.

MONDAYS: TRIVIA (October through May) Come in by yourself or with a team and test YOUR knowledge against others. $10.00 a Team up to Six. Six People & up add $5.00 - CASH PRIZES!

TUESDAYS: OPEN MIC NIGHT Bring in your instrument and play for the crowd 8:00p.m.–11:00p.m. Also, RESTAURANT APPRECIATION NIGHT Bring in pay stub or proof that you work in a restaurant & receive $2.50 Drafts & $3.50 Well Drinks for all your hard work!

WEDNESDAYS: WASHOUT WASHERS Tournament style-play of the classic tailgating/drinking game! Starts at 7:00p.m. Check out more @

THURSDAYS: LIVE MUSIC Live music from 8:00p.m.–11:00p.m. featuring some of Maine’s favorite bands!

FRIDAYS: What’s to say? It’s Friday - come out and enjoy yourself. Bring old friends and you surely will meet new ones!

SATURDAYS: LIVE MUSIC! Live music from 8:00p.m.–11:00p.m. You gotta go out on Saturdays, the weekend is almost over!

SUNDAYS: LIVE MUSIC (June through August) Live music 4:00p.m.–7:00p.m. One last chance to enjoy the weekend before the work week begins. Come on out!

Building #4 to be re-developed

Garbage goes, energetic economy emerges

(Saco, Maine) Here at Saco Island, we are very pleased to announce that Building #4, at the top of Saco Island and directly across from the train station, was sold yesterday afternoon to Chinburg Properties of Newmarket, New Hampshire.

Chinburg is an OUTSTANDING developer, known for building very tasteful upscale apartments, and we are so pleased that the pace of development is poised to pick up dramatically at Saco Island. We’d like to congratulate Mayor Don Pilon, city manager Rick Michaud and the Saco City Council for their strong support in making this happen. As quoted in today's Journal Tribune, “This is very exciting,” said Will Armitage, executive director of the Economic Development Corporation, in a prepared statement. “Building 4 stands at the gateway to the city, and its transformation will only accelerate the positive transformation of attitudes about doing business in Biddeford and Saco. At long last, we’re seeing the white-hot redevelopment that everyone knew was possible.”

Amid all the great news, here’s a frightening thought from a recent editorial in the Portland Press Herald: “(The MERC incinerator) was successful enough to ensure that it could have continued to take deliveries of smelly waste for many years to come, limiting the potential of the rest of downtown.”

Luckily, history took a different course, and now headlines about new economic development in downtown Biddeford-Saco are routine.

When our company bought Saco Island in 2007, one of our most important priorities was to provide strong support to local officials in Biddeford and Saco as they tried to shut down the MERC incinerator.

Today, everybody points to MERC’s exit very openly, as developer Tim Harrington did last night in this Channel 13 interview. But at the beginning, it was a very lonely fight. We were very aware of what a huge obstacle MERC was to re-development, and we knew of many deals that had soured because of the nuisances the trash plant created. But hardly anyone would talk publicly about it. It’s difficult to believe now, but Heart of Biddeford, Saco Spirit and the Chamber of Commerce wouldn’t take a stand against MERC. (The Chamber, under the leadership of new executive director Craig Pendleton, finally took a pro-business, anti-MERC stand in 2012.)

We worked quietly behind the scenes, on many fronts, until 2011, when Alan Casavant ran his campaign to unseat Mayor Twomey. Then Saco Island hosted a fundraiser for Mayor Casavant at Run of the Mill Brew Pub, and he won election of November of that year. In January of 2012, right after Casavant took office, we facilitated a meeting with Biddeford officials, Saco officials and Doug Sanford, owner of the Pepperell Mill Campus, who had been in discussions with Casella. That meeting took place in Sanford’s office, overlooking the MERC plant and the Saco Falls, and it started a very important ball rolling. By July 31st of that year, the Biddeford City Council had voted to buy, close and demolish MERC.

The credit for this goes to city officials in Saco, particularly former Mayor Mark Johnston, who invested his personal blood, sweat and tears for almost three decades in the effort to close MERC. It also most definitely goes to Biddeford Mayor Casavant and the Biddeford City Council, as Saco Island owner Kevin Mattson made clear in this May, 2013 YouTube video. Quoted recently in the Press Herald, Casavant said, “When we had conversations about purchasing Maine Energy, we looked at what the domino effect would be. We recognized that once that was taken out, there would be redevelopment in the mill district.”

That city officials had the courage to lead --- at the right moments in time --- is an undeniable fact. But what is also now abundantly clear is that the message we began sending to officials in 2007, and the message that others began sending well before 2007, was right on the money. The removal of MERC would prove to be an economic catalyst.

In just two years, that has proven to be 100% true. New taxable revenue continues to be created in both Biddeford and Saco, as these stories about the “new energy” clearly demonstrate:

Best of all, THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING. At Saco Island, we salute the courage of all public officials and the many private citizens who struggled so for many years to achieve this outcome. It was a team effort, and now it’s paying off for all of us.

VID-NEWS: Controversy ends, bridge going up

With obstacles cleared out of the way, the new pedestrian bridge should be functional by the Fall of 2014.

With obstacles cleared out of the way, the new pedestrian bridge should be functional by the Fall of 2014.

(Saco, Maine) In a video press release published today (, Saco Island announced that complications surrounding the construction of a new pedestrian bridge connecting downtown Saco to downtown Biddeford have been solved.

Kevin Mattson, president of Dirigo Capital Advisors and owner of most of Saco Island, said the bridge, “that’s been discussed now for over two years, is moving forward, and will happen.” The news will come as a relief to advocates of downtown revitalization in Biddeford and Saco, who grew concerned late last year after a story in the Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier brought to light complications involving property ownership on Saco Island. Those complications and other misunderstandings put the future of the bridge in doubt.

In his video news release, Mattson credited Saco mayor Don Pilon, Saco planner Bob Hamblen, and the Pepperell Mill Campus in Biddeford for “pulling together” to put together and finalize what threatened to be “a problematic deal.”

Saco Island Video News Release:

Once a pioneer, pub welcomes new competition

As Channel 6 reports, Shonee Strickland is leaving Run of the Mill to start her own brewery in Biddeford. And we think that’s FANTASTC

As Channel 6 reports, Shonee Strickland is leaving Run of the Mill to start her own brewery in Biddeford. And we think that’s FANTASTC

“A brew pub in downtown Saco --- are you CRAZY?” We heard that a lot from the Negative Nancies in 2006 and 2007 as we were busy fitting out “Building #3” so that it could host The Run of the Mill Public House & Brewery. Now that the pub is a huge Saco Island success story, does new competition bother us? Read on for the answer.

Recently Maine magazine ran an article about a “young & hip” Portland couple spending 48 hours in “Saco + Biddeford.” The Press Herald took note of the young chefs with “experience working at high-end restaurants in New York City” who are about to re-open the Palace Diner on March 12, according to the Sun Chronicle. The Maine Today web site covered Growler Night at Funky Bow Brewery, the Press Herald cheered on Banded Horn Brewery and Rob Caldwell from WCSH-TV did a story on Shonee Strickland, an assistant brewer at Run of the Mill, who is also starting up a new brewery. The Sun Chronicle reports this week that another brewery, Barreled Souls, will soon be open for business.

Do new restaurants or breweries threaten us? Not at all --- WE LOVE IT! Run of the Mill opened in 2008, before MERC closed, when the potential of downtown Biddeford-Saco was just that --- potential. The fact that four other breweries are now in the area is great news for Run of the Mill and Saco Island, and clear proof that potential is being realized. Things are happening, folks. The title of Rob Caldwell’s video piece is “Beer & Economic Recovery,” and that’s right on the money. Success breeds success, and that’s good for all of us. Once a pioneer, Run of the Mill now has plenty of company, and more will surely follow. Bring it on!

UPDATE: Newspaper tries to build a bridge

Bridge photo taken by the Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier.

Bridge photo taken by the Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier.

Saco Island would like to commend Courier reporter Ben Meiklejohn for figuring out that building a new pedestrian bridge between downtown Biddeford and Saco is a complicated business, more complicated than had been realized.

Meiklejohn wrote his story, “Bridging the gap?” and raised the question about who actually owns the mezzanine leading to the bridge, and therefore, who needed to sign the easement. Turns out Meiklejohn was right, the path to the bridge is a “limited common element,” and another party needed to sign the critical easement required to move the project forward. 

The good news is that Meiklejohn’s article spurred good communications among multiple parties, and that produced a lot more clarity about what needs to be done to build the bridge. In a burst of activity, various interested stakeholders met and agreed on a go-forward plan for the bridge that is now very close to completion. But his article also made it abundantly clear that this is complicated. As we have stated before, we love what the Cities of Biddeford and Saco have proposed. We strongly support the idea of a pedestrian bridge spanning the Saco River and connecting Saco Island with the Pepperell Mill Campus.

While we are very close to finalizing the project, a few final steps remain. We’ll keep you posted, but the odds of success have risen exponentially in the last three weeks. It just goes to show you, when people of good faith share a common goal and communicate, a lot can happen. We want to publically thank the Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier and Ben Meiklejohn for paying attention to this issue. Their reporting helped bring the parties together and, in the end, they deserve credit for what will ultimately be a fantastic pubic private partnership that will benefit both communities for years to come. 

PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE: Devil’s in the details

There is no doubt that wide agreement exists on the positive effects a pedestrian bridge would have for Biddeford and Saco. Connecting the two communities in the heart of the mill district is a great idea whose time has come. Since the first day that the idea was floated, we have supported it. However, as with all complex undertakings, the devil is in the details. We are quickly approaching a point at which the finer details of this complicated project must be ironed out – and there are more stakeholders than meet the eye, certainly more than were referenced in local press coverage recently. (CLICK LINKS for Sun Chronicle article, for Journal Tribune article, and for Press Herald article.)

In one recent article, a public official said the bridge would enhance property values on both sides of the river, but “if the developer doesn’t think it’s an asset, they don’t have to do it.” Very true. That comment, however, possibly calculated to downplay the Cities' interest in the project, leaves the false impression that building a new pedestrian bridge benefits only Saco Island and Doug Sanford’s project, the Pepperell Mill Campus (PMC.) Quite frankly, it also seems to imply that Saco Island is looking a gift horse in the mouth, and that’s not the case. 

The comment ignores one of the chief drivers in the quest to build the bridge: the significant value to both downtown Biddeford and downtown Saco, as outlined in "Biddeford-Saco plan path to prosperity," a Press Herald article that appeared in March, in which several public officials in both Biddeford and Saco sang the praises of building a new pedestrian bridge to foster economic development.

The fact is that along with Mr. Sanford, we already have a bridge across the Saco River. If Mr. Sanford were amenable, that bridge could easily be converted to a pedestrian bridge. One that we could cooperatively control and maintain, privately, to make sure that its use does not negatively affect the hundreds of residential and commercial tenants who are in close proximity. One that would not require us to spend several hundred thousand dollars in property upgrades that building a new bridge would impose on Saco Island. That's right. Our own pedestrian bridge would cost Saco Island a lot less than agreeing to a new one.

Just to be clear, we love what the Cities have proposed. We strongly support the idea of a pedestrian bridge spanning the Saco River and connecting Saco Island with the PMC. But if the two Cities “want in,” and want to use money from the Maine Department of Transportation to form a public/private partnership and build a new bridge, then collectively we first have to build a two-way street and address all of the issues that this laudable project may inadvertently create. We also have to ensure that the plan puts public safety first.

It comes down to this: We own land they want to use. The Cities want a bridge design and location that best serves their master plans for development in the entire downtown district, not just our portion of it. The figurative two-way street necessary to make this all happen would give the Cities the access, walkability and connectivity they envision, while protecting PMC, Saco Island, and the hundreds of people who live and work in close proximity to the bridge from unreasonable exposure to liability and mischievous activity.

Stay tuned. Talks are imminent. Somewhere in the middle, hopefully, a compromise is possible that properly addresses safety and liability concerns that our bank and insurance company, to their credit, have raised.

The locals rule tomorrow at Run of the Mill

The guitar player for local band The Blues Hounds once jammed with Mick Jagger. The band takes the stage 10/19 at Run of the Mill, 8:00 PM. 

The guitar player for local band The Blues Hounds once jammed with Mick Jagger. The band takes the stage 10/19 at Run of the Mill, 8:00 PM. 

The Run of the Mill Public House & Brewery has become a definite favorite among the people of Biddeford and Saco, a lively gathering spots here in the "Saco Island village" for class reunions and special occasions of all kinds. Its location is certainly one reason, right on the Saco River, and its ample size is another. It’s really the only restaurant/pub that can truly say it belongs to both Biddeford and Saco. And as DownEast Magazine noted recently, Run of the Mill makes people feel cozy and comfortable:

“The pub is one of the great achievements of modern civilization — a place to see friends, meet people from walks of life that don’t normally intersect with yours, and enjoy unpretentious, tasty food and beer. That’s the view of Geoff Houghton, who has made it his life’s work to create pubs that are cozy, inviting, and full of good people. ‘If you’re a jerk, you’re not going to last long in a good pub,’ says Houghton, the 44-year-old proprietor of Hallowell’s Liberal Cup and, more recently, The Run of the Mill in Saco.”

Tomorrow night The Run of the Mill welcomes The Blues Hounds, whose leader singer (Chris Robinson of Biddeford) once got to play guitar for Mick Jagger at an impromptu jam before a Stones concert. This show is sure to draw a big local crowd. So celebrate the Red Sox winning the American League pennant by coming down to Run of the Mill after the game and hanging out with a bunch of good people. It’ll be a lot of fun! Showtime is 8:00 p.m.


Clearly, Saco Island has an attitude about Biddeford

John Bubier: Commercial redevelopment in general "helps both sides" of the Saco River.

John Bubier: Commercial redevelopment in general "helps both sides" of the Saco River.

In an article not long ago in a local weekly, Biddeford city manager John Bubier was discussing economic development in downtown Biddeford-Saco, and he took note of Saco Island's support for initiatives in Biddeford to foster economic growth. “To the extent that there is growth in the region," he said, "it helps both sides.”

We couldn't agree more about redevelopment on both sides of the Saco River. In just the past few months, we have posted articles that have:

It’s easy to say nice things about all the great progress in downtown Biddeford, because we view it as 50% of all the great progress in downtown Biddeford-Saco. It’s that simple. We plan to keep making our attitude clear in this blog space, so the rest of the world can catch up on news from two Maine cities that are clearly on the move.


This Saco Island contribution should be noticed

Saco’s mayor, Mark Johnston, is not running for re-election this fall. We certainly wish his successor well, regardless of who that may be, but we hope the people of Saco realize how important Mark’s steady hand has been, especially in the last few years, a time of severe economic challenges. Hopefully THIS VIDEO elaborates and provides a helpful context.

CLICK ON THE IMAGE  to understand Saco Island's opinion of current Saco mayor, Mark Johnston. 

CLICK ON THE IMAGE  to understand Saco Island's opinion of current Saco mayor, Mark Johnston. 

We announced a significant redevelopment of Saco Island in October of 2007, and a heavy component of our planning was the major expansion of available housing. Then 2008 arrived. The violent housing crash, unprecedented in U.S. history, began.

If you haven’t yet, read this very frightening article in Vanity Fair. The cause of world financial collapse that began in 2008, and the fallout that lingers to this day, was the failure or risk of failure at major financial institutions globally, starting with the rescue of investment bank Bear Stearns in March 2008 and the failure of Lehman Brothers in September 2008. Many of these institutions had invested heavily in risky securities that lost much or all of their value when U.S. and European housing bubbles began to deflate during the 2007-2009 period. Further, many institutions had become dependent on short-term (overnight) funding markets subject to disruption.

In short, disaster. Like real estate developers nationwide, Saco Island was forced to first weather the financial hurricane, then we had to TOTALLY re-design the long-term redevelopment of the Island based on a completely new financial reality.

Mayor Johnston understood this. He was stoic and mature. He was insightful. He was helpful. His outlook was patience, not panic. Saco Island survived, and redevelopment now continues. It’s possible that very few will credit Mayor Johnston for this. But we do.

WISDOM: “You can’t build something with 200 years of history.”

This long-time Saco Island resident is pretty excited about all the new hustle and bustle!

This long-time Saco Island resident is pretty excited about all the new hustle and bustle!

Eloquent words indeed. In one year there’s been more progress in downtown Biddeford-Saco than in the entire previous decade before that. Alisa Bearov Landrum has been an eyewitness to all of it. She lives in Virginia for a significant part of the year, but she and her husband also own a condo at Saco Island. They’re part of the Island Terrace Owners Association. They bought their condo in 1999, and Alisa has proven herself to be a strong supporter of downtown Biddeford-Saco ever since, waiting very patiently for the rose to bloom. In the last year, thanks to progressive moves by leadership in both cities, things are really starting to heat up on Saco Island and in downtown Biddeford-Saco in general. Alisa has certainly noticed.

“The Island itself is a lot more animated now,” she said in a recent chat with our marketing director Conor Beliveau.

Saco Island is a mixed use redevelopment project, with residential and commercial real estate coming together on this unique southern Maine island with its very own Amtrak train station. It’s about VIBRANCY. See what Alisa has to say about the new energy --- she’s certainly an eloquent spokeswoman for the attractions of remarkable urban living.

The sophisticated sounds of Saco Island

The talented Steve Jones sets sail for Saco Island Saturday, September 14th, 8 - 11 p.m.!

The talented Steve Jones sets sail for Saco Island Saturday, September 14th, 8 - 11 p.m.!

CLICK THIS LINK and listen to “Itchy Fingers” by one of Maine’s most well-known musicians, Steve Jones. Jones has played with nearly every important talent here in Maine for the last three decades. He’s most well known as a founding member of The Boneheads, but is also involved in bands like The Holy Mackerels and what the Bangor Daily News called Maine’s “supergroup,” the fabulous Dirigo.

Jones will be at The Run of the Mill Public House and Brewery this Saturday, September 14th, from 8:00 --- 11:00 p.m. In case you haven’t noticed, some of this state’s most creative musical talents are finding their way to Saco Island. This is the “place to be.” And that’s exactly what a downtown renaissance looks like.


Saco Island says THANKS for capturing the VITALITY

Rocky Coast Marketing and LoSciuto Productions do great work capturing the vitality of a red hot "opportunity market," otherwise known as downtown Biddeford-Saco, Maine.  

Rocky Coast Marketing and LoSciuto Productions do great work capturing the vitality of a red hot "opportunity market," otherwise known as downtown Biddeford-Saco, Maine.


We don’t mind telling you that two local businesses who produced THIS VIDEO deserve a big hand. Yesterday we published a blog post about how the Saco River Market and other great businesses like the Saco Island Deli, Run of the Mill Brew Pub and the Amtrak Downeaster are all helping to bring Saco Island ALIVE with hustle and bustle. They certainly bring the “village feel” to the Island, and clearly a very bright future is in the making.

The response to yesterday’s post was phenomenal --- our web traffic was through the roof! And so The Offices At Saco Island and our parent company Dirigo Capital Advisors would like to thank Rocky Coast Marketing and LoSciuto Productions for an outstanding job capturing how unique and “groovy” the Saco River Market really is. Great work, guys, you nailed it! This sort of positive messaging about downtown Biddeford-Saco is why the world is starting to understand this is one of the hottest and hippest “opportunity markets” in the northeast United States, a great place to live, work, eat, play and create! If you liked yesterday’s video, you’ll love this one too, shot in the early spring this year.


Saco Island’s ALIVE with healthy, Maine-grown food!

There's hustle and bustle at Saco Island! Have you visited lately?

There's hustle and bustle at Saco Island! Have you visited lately?

CLICK THIS VIDEO LINK and see what you’ve been missing! Every Saturday morning the Saco River Market operates right here along the Saco River from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., one of the most compelling examples of how quickly vibrancy in downtown Biddeford-Saco is accelerating. Just months ago the dominant industry in downtown Biddeford-Saco was garbage processing and incineration.

No longer --- THAT’S GONE! And that’s why downtown Biddeford-Saco is now one of the hottest and hippest “opportunity markets” in the northeast United States! Hop on the Amtrak Downeaster anywhere from Boston, Massachusetts to Brunswick, Maine and arrive in comfort at the Saco Transportation Center, brand new just a couple of years ago. Exciting destinations like the Saco River Market, The Saco Island Deli and The Run of the Bill Public House & Brewery beckon. Without question, Saco Island is simply a great place to live, work, eat, play and create!