The former Bicknell Manufacturing Co. complex off of Tillson Ave. in Rockland is being considered for redevelopment

ROCKLAND, Maine ― Chemical manufacturing giant DuPont has purchased a waterfront property that abuts its Rockland seaweed processing plant, thwarting recently proposed plans for the property’s redevelopment.

On May 1, DuPont bought two pieces of property off Tillson Avenue that make up the former Bicknell Manufacturing Co., according to the Knox County Registry of Deeds. While a purchase price was not disclosed by a DuPont spokesperson, the property was previously listed for about $2 million.

Before DuPont’s acquisition of the property, the manager of its Rockland plant expressed concerns to the Rockland City Council about nearby proposed redevelopment plans.

“DuPont is often considering purchasing properties near its facilities like it just has with its Rockland site,” DuPont spokesperson Lindsay Torriero said in an email. “We are currently discussing plans for that property but nothing has been defined yet.”

Last month, the City Council got a first look at plans by a resident who was planning to buy the Bicknell property to create a community-oriented space that would feature shops, restaurants and potentially residential units.

After the plan was presented, DuPont’s Rockland plant manager Jeff Hamilton told the council that the company opposes allowing residential units in the area surrounding the plant, which has historically been largely industrial.

Last month, the City Council gave preliminary approval to an ordinance that would allow for residential units to exist on the upper floors of buildings in the waterfront district. A final vote is scheduled for next week.

For years, city officials have struggled to attract development to the Tillson Avenue area, which has a number of vacant lots and buildings. Located just off the city’s arts-and-food-centric Main Street, the Tillson Avenue neighborhood is home to the city’s wastewater treatment plant, DuPont’s seaweed processing plant, the municipal fish pier and Rockland’s U.S. Coast Guard base.

In 2017, as part of its merger with Dow Chemical, DuPont purchased the Rockland plant, which was formerly owned by FMC Corp. Historically, FMC, and now DuPont, has been the largest taxpayer in Rockland, according to the city’s assessing department. Last year DuPont paid about $300,000 in property taxes for its plant on the Rockland waterfront, according to tax records.

While DuPont does not currently have set plans for the property, Hamilton told city councilors at their meeting Monday that the purchase of the Bicknell property demonstrates the company’s “long-term and sustainable commitment to Rockland.”

“It is the company’s sincere hope that this demonstrated commitment is regarded positively by all,” Hamilton said.

At Monday’s meeting, City Councilor Valli Geiger floated the idea of talking with the city’s attorney about the possibility of using eminent domain to take the Bicknell property back from DuPont.