EASTPORT, Maine — A long-planned redevelopment project of a waterfront industrial building will be moving ahead now that a developer has agreed to finance the $18 million project, according to the property owners.

Nancy Asante, who co-owns the former sardine can manufacturing plant at 15 Sea St. along with Linda Godfrey and Meg McGarvey, said Friday that Arnold Development Group of Kansas City will partner with them to convert the empty building into a mixed-use facility including retail, event and office space; residential units and rooms for lodging. The Kansas City firm redeveloped the former Mayo Mill in Dover-Foxcroft in 2014.

Asante confirmed that the estimated cost for the project is $18 million.

“We will be starting work on the roof within a month,” Asante said Friday.

The goal, she said, is to complete the renovation by June 2018.

The three women, business partners in Dirigamus LLC, acquired the building in 2005 from Stolt Sea Farm Maine, who had used the building as a storage facility for its nearby aquaculture operations. The structure has 28,800 square feet of floor space, including a smaller rooftop third floor called “The Lantern” where eight hotel rooms will be built.

Asante said she and her partners are excited that their long-held vision for the former industrial building finally will be realized. They are among a group of several local residents who have been working for more than a decade to reinvent Eastport as a tourist destination and hub for the arts.

“We have had wonderful support [from the community],” Asante said. “We will be hiring locally as much as possible and sourcing materials as close [to Eastport] as possible.”

The renovated building, much of which currently is boarded up, will pay homage to Eastport’s maritime past, according to the owners.

“Historical displays and exhibits will allow us to tell the stories of the area’s past and to demonstrate such things as how herring weirs operate, sardine cans were made, and sardines were prepared for packing,” they wrote on a web page about the project. “We will spotlight various activities related to local fisheries, shipbuilding, wreath-making, and the creative arts.”

The web page includes a quote from a booklet published in 1908 that promoted the city’s then-thriving sardine industry, which no longer exists.

“Eastport eclipses all [maine municipalities] in its sardine industry and lays special claim to the fact that she has the largest sardine and canning industry in the world, that of the Seacoast Canning Co.,” the booklet indicated. “This important industry was established in 1899 and it was incorporated as the Seacoast Canning Co. in 1903. The building at 15 Sea Street was constructed in 1908 and is known as the American Can Building. The building was home to the Continental Brand of roll key opening can.”

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....