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Sanford’s mill district is headed for a rebirth, as big plans are in the works for the building at 72 Emery St. Two of the building’s tenants, Isaac Ellowitz and Justin Graves, are teaming up with a business partner to purchase the building from Stone & Stone LLC, which has owned it since 2005. The closing is scheduled for next week.

Mr. Ellowitz, who runs Westbrook Creek LLC, a medical marijuana cultivation business in the mill, says the partners’ first priority is to modernize and update the building, so it can be brought up to full occupancy. Right now, only about half the space is rented. Roof and elevator repairs are at the top of the list, along with utility upgrades. Parking lot improvements are also being planned.

Mr. Ellowitz envisions the mill returning to being a manufacturing and employment hub for the City, with a mix of businesses that could include restaurants, aquaculture, a brew pub and more. The location currently houses 15 cannabis growing and manufacturing operations, a firearms retailer, a food distribution company, a waste disposal firm and a maker of fine cabinetry.

Although the City Council just approved the location for retail adult-use marijuana sales, Mr. Ellowitz said the partners have no immediate plans to apply for a license. Instead, they will focus on getting the building in shape to attract new entrepreneurs to Sanford.

The mill, built in 1919, has over 278,000 sq. ft. of floor space. Half of the building is six stories high, while the other half has four stories. The purchase also includes the vacant land on the other side of Heritage Crossing, and together the two parcels total about five acres.

Mr. Ellowitz credited Stone & Stone for giving him and other small business owners the opportunity they needed to grow their businesses over the past seven years. “Now we can take it to the next level” he said.

He also praised the City’s administration, Planning and Codes departments for their groundbreaking work developing performance standards for cannabis growers and manufacturers, saying the work pioneered in Sanford has since become the model for other municipalities in Maine.

In addition to the Stone mill, plans are also reportedly moving ahead to redevelop the Stenton Trust building on River St. The building is the twin to the one that burned down in 2017 and was demolished two years later. Boston-based WinnCompanies is expected to turn it into market-rate housing beginning next year, although they have not released any public statement yet.

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