SPRING 2016 UPDATE

In January 2016, Marble Block Redevelopment Corp. wrapped up the Phase I abatement, made possible with a $200K cleanup subgrant from Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission, whose funds come from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be disbursed to projects in southern Maine. Credere Associates received the contract for the project after a bidding process required by the EPA and SMPDC. The abatement work in Phase I was extensive because of the amount of asbestos in the basement, the ceiling of the main floor, and the PCBs found in paint used on concrete in the stairwell treads and the basement walls. Brownfields remediation is carefully regulated by the DEP and EPA with a lot of documentation required. Final inspection of the first floor and basement were approved by the DEP and EPA.
Prior to this abatement, no contractors would do any work in the basement because of the mold caused by many years of a wet basement that contained friable asbestos. The environment was pretty toxic. The basement is still very wet as there is a large weep hole in the granite foundation in the rear of the building that leaks continuously. Phase II abatement will address the remainder of the work necessary in the basement.
Godbout Plumbing and Heating will be installing a sump pump to help remove some of the water from the leaking in the basement.
The Marble Block is currently owned by the Marble Block Redevelopment Corp. (MBRC), a nonprofit corporation established to abate and redevelop the building.
To date, the funding to get the building to its current state (which is much improved even though it may not appear to be from the outside) has been a combination of:
  • Brownfields Cleanup Sub-Grant from Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission ($200,000)
  • Private foundation funding including the Quimby Family Foundation, Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, and the Morton-Kelly Foundation
  • A community 2013 community fundraiser ($12,000)
  • Biddeford Ball 2014 ($14,400)
  • Biddeford Facade Grant Program ($6K)
  • In-kind contributions made by Caleb Johnson Architects and Joe Hemes Architecture

Use of funds have gone toward:

  • Completion of Part I of the Historic Preservation Application to the National Park Service
  • Demo to the facade coverings to reveal the original building structure
  • Establishing new electrical service to the property
  • Inspections and initial existing conditions drawings
  • Sprinkler inspection
  • Historic preservation consultants
  • Architectural conceptual renderings for new facade
  • Ongoing carrying costs (snow removal on roofs, gutter repair, vacant building insurance)

No more work can be done to the facade until Part II of the Historic Preservation Application can be completed (which will cost another $20-30K roughly for final architectural drawings and historic preservation consultants).

We plan on dressing up the front as best we can this spring as whether warms with the minimum of expense. We are awaiting word from the EPA on a 2nd $200K grant to clean up the second and third floors of any lead and asbestos. If successful in receiving this grant, we will again quarantine the building for the period of time it takes to complete the abatement. Following this, we would have a 100% clean/safe building.
In tandem with this abatement process and minor repair work such as the sump pump, we are working on:
  • Financial modeling for the development, based on projected uses of both commercial space and Engine’s space. Because this is currently planned to be a Historic Tax Credit project, a nonprofit can occupy <50% of the 18,000 sf. Engine is looking to lease space itself in the development, and attract commercial tenants to generate rent revenue to support the operating costs of such a large structure. Financial modeling should be done in the next two weeks. The fact that commercial rents are still very low on Main Street is not helpful to this type of project. We will have a substantial capital campaign heading our way in the very near future. The financial modeling will take into account the tax credits which MBRC or Engine cannot use as a nonprofit but will need to syndicate (read as, “to pay very expensive tax credit lawyers”) to the open market to some entity that has a tax credit liability.
  • Structural analysis of the building to determine the integrity of the shell, specifically the marble facade. We already know that one of the 3 roofs is not stable and will impact construction costs.

PHASE I CLEANUP COMPLETE

Phase I of our Brownfields remediation is completed. The cleanup involved a massive gutting of the main level as well as the basement. Any asbestos, lead, and other hazardous materials were removed from the building. While we still have the second and third floor to complete, we are awaiting news on a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency directly. Following are some photos of the first floor in abatement progress.

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PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE

The Marble Block Redevelopment Corporation will be conducting a public meeting on Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 5:00 PM to gather comments on the draft Brownfields Cleanup Grant application being submitted to the federal EPA for the cleanup of the Marble Block located at 129 Main Street in Biddeford, Maine owned by the Marble Block Redevelopment Corporation. The meeting will be held at the Gnecco Law Office, located at 215 Main Street, Suite 101 in Biddeford, Maine.

The draft grant application is available for public review and comment in the Gnecco Law Office, located at 215 Main Street, Suite 101 in Biddeford. The draft grant application will be available for public comment from December 4, 2015 through December 18, 2015. An electronic version of the draft document can also be emailed to any interested party. Please contact Greg Tarbox, Managing Member of Marble Block Redevelopment Corporation, at 207-571-9365 or gftbox@gmail.com to receive a copy or to submit formal comments on the draft documents. Please note that the draft Analysis of Brownfields Cleanup

Alternatives (ABCA) previously underwent a 30-day public comment period from December 5, 2014 through January 4, 2015. All public comments received were incorporated into the final ABCA document.

 

ABATEMENT BEGINS ON MARBLE BLOCK

If you’ve noticed a dumpster on Franklin Street and guys in hard hats working at the Marble Block, that’s because we have begun work on remediation of environmental contamination as part of the building redevelopment. It’s a major step in the process of getting this building back on its feet. Credere Associates, LLC, of Westbrook, Maine, using EPA Brownfields Cleanup sub-grant funds provided by the Southern Maine Planning & Development Commission (SMPDC), is handling the remediation work. Contaminants at this property that require remediation prior to reuse of the building include asbestos-containing building materials, PCB-containing building materials, and lead-based paint.

The work will take much of the month of October, but will result in a clean basement and first floor. The work is extensive, with the crew removing all materials and coverings, down to the original building structure.

We are so grateful to SMPDC for guiding us through this very regulated process and providing the funding!

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CREDERE CHOSEN AS ABATEMENT FIRM

The EPA Brownfields Grant from Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission was awarded to Credere Associates in April 2015. Credere will act as general contractor for the cleanup of the first floor and basement of 129 Main Street, referred to as the Marble Block. Work will commence approximately July 20 and be completed in August/September.

SMPDC LOGOEPA download

 

$200,000 BROWNFIELDS GRANT AWARDED FOR MARBLE BLOCK

In the fall of 2014, the Southern Maine Planning & Development Commission voted unanimously to grant $200,000 to the Marble Block Redevelopment Corporation, an entity of Engine, an arts organization, for the cleanup of hazardous materials in the Marble Block, a historic building at 129 Main Street in downtown Biddeford, Maine.

As part of the redevelopment of the Marble Block, Engine was required to complete an environmental assessment and hazardous materials test prior to full-scale renovation. Significant asbestos and lead was found throughout the basement and upper floors which require licensed abatement. As a nonprofit corporation, Engine’s Marble Block Redevelopment Corporation qualified for a grant through the Brownfields Program.

“We deeply appreciate the SMPDC’s help and this grant. Without this grant funding, the building would sit empty for the unforeseeable future and continue to deteriorate rapidly while we worked to raise the money privately. The nasty conditions of the basement were completely preventing any further work to be done by electrical and fire safety subcontractors,” says Greg Tarbox, chair of the Marble Block Redevelopment Corporation.

“This project is a perfect utilization of Brownfields funding. It cleans up a property, enhances the growing redevelopment of downtown Biddeford, provides start up funding for an exciting new arts and culture effort, begins the restoration process of a beautiful old building and will hopefully lead to more opportunities on Main Street,” says Paul Schumacher, Executive Director of Southern Maine Planning & Development Commission

ENGINE, located in the heart of Biddeford, Maine, is a non-profit arts organization. Engine’s mission is to make arts-driven programming, cultural development, and sustainable creative entrepreneurialism an explicit community value and civic priority in Biddeford. ENGINE is the home to the Maine Fablab in addition to running at contemporary gallery space at 265 Main street. www.feedtheengine.org

SOUTHERN MAINE PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION: Founded in 1964, in response to an identified need for a coordinated effort for economic development and resource management, SMPDC has been conducting economic development, environmental, land use and transportation planning and providing technical assistance to the municipalities in the region for over 45 years. SMPDC has recently changed its name (formerly Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission) to reflect the Commissions’ expanded role in community development, housing and brownfields redevelopment. A Council of Governments enabled by state statute, SMPDC includes thirty-nine communities in York, southern Oxford and Cumberland County and the county of York itself as members. Information on SMPDC’s Brownfields Grant program can be found here.

BIDDEFORD BALL RAISES $14,400 FOR THE MARBLE BLOCK

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In August of 2014, the inaugural Biddeford Ball raised nearly $20,000 from the local community. The ball was conceived of by Roxi Suger, a fashion designer who opened a storefront on Alfred Street and a production facility in the Pepperell Mill Campus in 2014. Of the $20,000 raised through individual community members who attended or supported the benefit, $5,000 was distributed to Seeds of Hope, Stone Soup, and Saco Meals through Union Church Missions. The remaining funds of $14,400, were granted to Engine and earmarked for the exterior renovation of the Marble Block. As part of the grant, the organization agreed to use the grants funds to create a lighting installation to dress up the facade of the building whilst undergoing development, and leveraged the remaining funds as match for the City of Biddeford’s facade grant program.

  • $4,825: Removed two layers of the existing facade to expose the original building and iron i-beam which required a demo permit.
    $2,500: an interior kinetic LED lighting installation in the storefront which will be ongoing until construction requires the dismantling.
    $3,000: Contracted with Sutherland Conservation & Consultingn to provide historic preservation and architectural conservation services including navigating the federal and state Historic Tax Credits, National Register, HABS/HAER and Maine Historic Building Record documentation, preservation and restoration planning, historic interiors and paint analysis.
    $10,325 of the $14,400 Biddeford ball funds has been expended to-date.
  • The $14,400 of Biddeford Ball spending was leveraged along with $600 from Engine funds for a $15,000 1:1 cash match for the City’s Facade Grant program for a total project budget of $30,000 directed at the facade of the building.

The remaining $4,075 Biddeford Ball funds and $15,000 Facade grant program funds, for a total of $19,075 remain for structural, architecture fees.

Engine is grateful for the funds raised by the community and grants from the City of Biddeford to support this project and looks forward to celebrating the opening of this community space.