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August 21, 2017 | last updated August 21, 2017 1:40 pm

FAME decision advances Front Street Shipyard's expansion

File photo / Billy Black
File photo / Billy Black
Finance Authority of Maine recently approved loan insurance on two loans totaling $3.6 million by Androscoggin Bank to help Front Street Shipyard proceed with a $5.6 million expansion at its site on Belfast's waterfront.

Finance Authority of Maine approved loan insurance on two loans totaling $3.6 million by Androscoggin Bank for the purchase of land and construction of a new boat manufacturing and maintenance facility at Front Street Shipyard in Belfast.

The loan insurance approved at FAME's Aug. 17 monthly board meeting is to Dubba LLC, a real estate holding company. Its project is located at 101 Front St., which is currently occupied by a related operating company, FSS Inc., d/b/a Front Street Shipyard.

Front Street Shipyard plans to expand its operations by exercising an option to purchase land it currently leases from the city of Belfast.

Total project cost is estimated to be $5.8 million for a project that FAME stated in its news release is expected to create 40 jobs and retain an additional 84 jobs at the full-service boat yard with 1,500 feet of frontage on Penobscot Bay. In addition to new boat construction, restoration and refitting of a variety of vessels, Front Street provides a marina and storage facility for its customers.

FAME's Commercial Loan Insurance Program insures a portion of a loan to a business made by a participating financial institution. For a business, it may mean the difference between obtaining a loan or never getting the opportunity to start a business.

"We are grateful for FAME's assistance with our plans for a new boat manufacturing facility in Belfast," JB Turner, president of FSS Inc. "This financing will help our company grow and add jobs in one of Maine's most historic industries."

In a telephone interview with Mainebiz late this morning, Turner said the expansion project facilitated by FAME's loan guarantees involves construction of 140-by-160-foot facility that has long been planned for the shipyard, known as Building 6. Turner said the shipyard hoped to get ground work started this fall on the facility, which will greatly expand the shipyard's capabilities for major construction and retrofitting jobs.

"FAME is pleased to support Dubba's plans for growth and expanding manufacturing jobs in a traditional industry in Waldo County through Front Street Shipyard," said FAME Chairman Ray Nowak. "We wish the company all the best with its plans for growth and success."

Front Street Shipyard continues to grow

Founded in 2011 by a partnership that includes Turner, Steve White, Taylor Allen, Kenneth Priest II, Lucia Michaud and Jack Rettig, Front Street Shipyard has dramatically transformed the city's waterfront, which was once an embarrassment with chicken waste floating in the harbor and derelict buildings covered with graffiti.

With an initial investment of $13 million, Front Street's partners tore down derelict buildings, added new state-of-the-art facilities for manufacturing boats both large and small and purchased 165-ton and 485-ton travel lifts that can hoist vessels of "super yacht" size out of the water and transport them to a climate-controlled building for servicing or a refitting overhaul.

It has more than 100 employees and announced last October plans to construct a new 21,700-square-foot building that could help the shipyard land a major contract to build ferries for New York City.

Turner said Front Street is still talking with San Francisco-based Hornblower Inc. to possibly construct 84-foot ferries for New York City, but also has other prospects lined up that would benefit when Building 6 is completed.

"We're very happy to get FAME's loan guarantees," he said.

Thomas Kittredge, Belfast's economic development director, said the FAME loan guarantees will help "ensure economic stability and sustain job growth" at Front Street Shipyard.

"We support this expansion," he told Mainebiz in a phone interview Monday afternoon. "We understand the additional capacity is necessary in order for the shipyard to take on new and more substantial work. The city wants to be a partner in the shipyard's continuing growth as best we can."

The partnership goes both ways, he added, noting that Front Street Shipyard played a critical role in supporting the city's successful application for a $1.9 million federal grant to pay for about half the cost of a road reconstruction project on Front Street.

Kittredge said the reconstruction projected added new storm drains, new sewers, new culverts and new water lines, and the section of the road from the water treatment plant to Pierce Street was be rebuilt to handle 200-ton loads, much higher than the usual city standard

"The realignment is substantially completed," he said. "We'll be closing out the grant very soon."

Read more

$4M waterfront expansion could help bring Belfast ferry-building jobs

Front Street Shipyard helped pave way for Belfast road project

Front Street Shipyard launches partnership with Norwegian shipyard

Feds lend $10M to Front Street Shipyard

Front Street Shipyard creates a buzz about Belfast

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