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!


HOT TOPIC: Biddeford's acute lack of parking

Biddeford's mayor fears mill development will stop without additional parking. He's right.

Biddeford's mayor fears mill development will stop without additional parking. He's right.

In an e-mail to constituents yesterday, Biddeford mayor Alan Casavant wrote the following about mill redevelopment in that city’s downtown: “A parking garage MUST come before a large anchor tenant. Currently, we do not have the parking to attract an anchor tenant, though there has been a lot of interest. All potential tenants have said that they need parking for their customers and employees. No parking, no big tenants.”

Our view, as we’ve stated before, is that Casavant is right on the money. That’s how development works. Biddeford’s mill district will never land a large anchor tenant if the current parking ceiling stays in place.

Now that doesn’t mean a big anchor tenant can’t come to downtown Biddeford-Saco right now --- specifically, to Saco Island. Saco Island has plenty of available parking and plenty of mill space (if you haven’t yet, WATCH THIS VIDEO.) Large tenants can easily call Saco Island home, and our parent company has an exceptional track record in accommodating clients who need lots of parking.

Biddeford should build that parking garage. We support their effort to ignore short-sighted naysayers and move forward, because we share one economy. If they do well, we do well. If we do well, they do well. And continued success will BUILD the tax base in both cities, something the naysayers just can’t fathom.

But let’s make sure interested parties from outside this region know that as a unit, Biddeford and Saco are open for business right now, and together we can absorb even very large businesses who need lots of parking.


Talented troubadours visiting the Saco Island village

The Sun Parade is at Run of the Mill Brew Pub , 8PM, Saturday, August 24.

The Sun Parade is at Run of the Mill Brew Pub , 8PM, Saturday, August 24.

Don’t have plans yet for tomorrow night? C’mon down to Saco Island and check out The Sun Parade, a very talented bunch playing at The Run of the Mill Brew Pub from 8:00 -11:00 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, September 24th. Their original material is a quirky but fresh mix of rock and folk. A review of their recent work is available in Glide Magazine, and if you want to preview some of their work, here’s the link.

This has been the Pub’s best summer ever, the unquestioned HOT SPOT in northern York County. Great music, great food, great friends, and great riverside views of downtown Biddeford-Saco’s undeniable renaissance. Stop in tomorrow night and have some fun!

Will Biddeford make Saco Island’s parking advantage permanent?

This is a rendering of the proposed parking garage in downtown Biddeford. The city council considers it tonight.

This is a rendering of the proposed parking garage in downtown Biddeford. The city council considers it tonight.

Last month we wrote a blog post about the plentiful parking at Saco Island, featuring a video tour by marketing director Conor Beliveau. ("Biddeford should catch up with us on parking.") The lack of parking in downtown Biddeford threatens their continued mill development (and growth of the tax base), while here on Saco Island, no such obstacle exists.

Development cannot happen without parking. So it’s absolutely fascinating for us to see the self-defeating thinking that some in Biddeford are making public. In one letter to a local paper, “Garage would be useless in city’s downtown,” the writer claims that, “To build one now...would be like putting the cart before the horse. A garage now would be like building a bridge over a river to nowhere and it would never get used. Good way to waste money.”

Wow. We certainly appreciate that those who think like that will be re-directing prospects who need ample parking away from downtown Biddeford and right into the arms of our project here on Saco Island. We can absorb those referrals and will say, “Thank you very much.” Accommodating large tenants who need lots of parking is the specialty of our parent company, Dirigo Capital Advisors.

In the long-term however, Saco Island is much better served if the entire mill district --- downtown Biddeford and downtown Saco --- thrives. We are one economy. If we all do well together, we all do well. The local paper reports that Doug Sanford’s mill in Biddeford (and that’s just one mill redevelopment project in downtown Biddeford-Saco) has increased its taxable value from $600,000 to $6 million, a one thousand percent increase. It is astounding to us that some fail to see the long-term implications of that.

According to the Portland Press Herald, the Biddeford City Council takes up the question tonight. It will be interesting to see how this all turns out.

More great press for downtown Biddeford-Saco

Education is a growing industry in Biddeford-Saco.

Education is a growing industry in Biddeford-Saco.

Do you want to know why downtown Biddeford-Saco is one of the Northeast’s hottest business markets in which to start a business and/or invest? Well certainly last summer’s decision in Biddeford to close the MERC incinerator is one reason. IT’S GONE. But another is the growing recognition of the educational assets available right here in York County, Maine’s fastest growing county.

In a recent article, “More and more discovering this educational jewel,” we told you about the fabulous University College here on Saco Island. And now we learn hat Forbes has named the University of New England in Biddeford as one of the top colleges in the country.

Attention, please, Maine: there’s a lot of good stuff going on down here, and it’s going to drive the state’s economy for decades to come! Full text of UNE’s press release, issued two days ago:


The University of New England has been named to Forbes' list of America's Top Colleges for 2013, a list that Forbes says is based on "output" and "return on investment."

Forbes’ acknowledgment of the value of a University of New England degree follows similar recognition by Affordable Colleges Online, a website reporting on higher education affordability, which recently ranked UNE second in student return on investment (ROI) among 43 public and private colleges and universities in Maine.

Forbes explains that "what sets our calculation of 650 colleges and universities apart from other rankings is our firm belief in “output” over “input.” We’re not all that interested in what gets a student into college, like our peers who focus heavily on selectivity metrics such as high school class rank and SAT scores. Our sights are set directly on ROI: What are students getting out of college.

To prepare its list, Forbes partnered with the Washington, D.C.-based Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP), which looked at five factors: student satisfaction, post-graduate success, student debt, graduation rate and nationally competitive awards.

Forbes looked at "factors that directly concern today’s incoming students (and their families) who will be footing a bill which has multiplied into the six figures: Will my classes be interesting? Is it likely I will graduate in four years? Will I incur a ton of debt getting my degree? And once I get out of school, will I get a good job and be a leader in my chosen profession? We pointedly ignore any metrics that would encourage schools to engage in wasteful spending."

Forbes ranked the University of New England number 319 of the 650. There are about 4,500 degree-granting institutions of higher learning in the U.S.  Among Maine's 43 colleges, six made the list, with UNE among the five Maine private colleges recognized.

"To be on the top tier of all institutions of higher education in the United States speaks volumes about our unwavering quest for excellence," says UNE President Danielle Ripich, Ph.D.  "We want our education to have value to our students and communities.  Compared to most of our ranked peers, we are a young institution, but we are determined to provide the most rewarding education to our students."

UNE is the largest educator of health care professionals for the state of Maine.

Recently, U.S. News & World Report's 2014 Best Graduate Schools guide recognized UNE for its outstanding programs in medicine and the health sciences.

UNE's College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNECOM) was recognized by U.S. News & World Report for its national leadership in primary care training, geriatrics, rural medicine and family medicine.

In addition UNE’s Westbrook College of Health Professions' graduate programs in occupational therapy, physical therapy, nurse anesthesia and physician assistant are all recognized by U.S. News & World Report as among the best in the nation.

Rare Maine supply of ample commercial space, infrastructure

Big ideas for your company and its location?  Find somebody who can execute big projects.

Big ideas for your company and its location?  Find somebody who can execute big projects.

CLICK IMAGE (left) FOR VIDEO. As state economic officials will verify, it is sometimes difficult to attract out of state businesses to Maine because it has so little existing stock of Class A office space ready for occupancy, with ready access to existing infrastructure and transportation assets. One bright spot is Saco Island. We’ve got plenty of available commercial space, and HERE AT THIS LINK you can see our ideal location, the transportation options to which we have ready access.

The Offices At Saco Island is a project of Dirigo Capital Advisors, the same folks who have made the Central Maine Commerce Center such a huge success in Augusta. They specialize in very large redevelopments for businesses that sometime have hundreds of employees. If you need a lot of space, with plenty of parking and great transit, you have very few options in any downtown district in Maine. But Saco Island is certainly one of them!

Biddeford should catch up with us on parking

QUICK VIDEO TOUR: News stories about parking and old mills rarely mention how much parking is available at Saco Island --- a lot of it!

QUICK VIDEO TOUR: News stories about parking and old mills rarely mention how much parking is available at Saco Island --- a lot of it!

We have plenty of parking here on the Island, but the same isn’t true across the river in Biddeford. Thanks to this article, “Parking needs hold back Biddeford mill development,” and many others like it, the southern Maine business community is very well aware of the limitations that our “competitors” across the river face. Just on Sunday, Biddeford’s mayor wrote in an email that, “without the garage, all redevelopment within the mills STOPS. It STOPS completely.” If you think that pleases us here on Saco Island, however, you’re mistaken. Sure we occasionally compete for tenants with our friends in Biddeford, but we think all mill development is good. We share one river and one economy, and we cooperate far more than we compete. The better we all do together, the better we all do. Hopefully the citizens of Biddeford support economic development and encourage their elected leaders to lead, and to build the long-awaited parking garage.

That said, we do think that it’s important for people to know that parking is NOT a problem at Saco Island. We have hundreds of spaces available, with plenty of space to expand if we ever need it. Take one minute and 17 seconds to watch this VIDEO. You’ll discover that media coverage of “the parking problem in the mill district” does not apply at all to the spaces for lease at Saco Island.