Kennebec Arsenal owner wants to continue with building-by-building renovation approach

BY RAMONA DU HOUX

October 15th, 2012 

alt

Tom Niemann stands on the Arsenal property he owns in Augusta on October 23, 2011. He started renovations in November of 2011. photo by Ramona du Houx

Tom Niemann, CEO of North Carolina-based Niemann Capital, owner of the Kennebec Arsenal, has received a three-week extension from a Maine attorney general’s office threat to sue him for not protecting the historic property from vandalism and deterioration.

“In April the state discouraged our building-by-building renovation approach, so we put those efforts on hold,” said Niemann. “We have contractors ready to work, building by building, until the complex is finished and the community is happy. We’re writing up our building-by-building proposal, which was started in November of 2011, so the State will have a complete, thorough, understanding of our plans.”

Niemann has employed a caretaker to clean up graffiti and maintain the grounds for the past year, since October of 2011. Due to the recession, his plans for redeveloping the property had to be put on hold. Even so, during that time he and his partners managed to invest $33 million in Maine, including transforming the Hathaway mill in Waterville into the Hathaway Creative Center, which now has 67 rented apartments and businesses renting office space.

Niemann said the state should not worry about his commitment to historic preservation.

“I helped create the historic preservation tax breaks for the state. With every project I’ve done, I’ve been true to historic preservation building codes; The Hathaway Center is a testament to that,” said Niemann.

Niemann sought a meeting with Gov. Paul LePage to discuss the Arsenal project, but was declined.

“I want him to know how committed I am to Maine communities and historic preservation. He was the mayor of Waterville; he saw what I’ve accomplished with the Hathaway Center,” said Niemann. “At this point in time, when I have contractors ready to restart the efforts we began last November, it simply doesn’t make sense for the State to take the property back. I see no reason why we can’t work together to make sure the Arsenal is redeveloped.”