BUCKSPORT — After demolition was halted on the local paper mill last week, a search is under way for a new contractor to continue the project, town officials said.
The demolition project stopped early last week because the company carrying out the work, DeNovo Constructors of Chicago, had not paid various subcontractors, according to Interim Town Manager Susan Lessard.
DeNovo was hired by the company that now owns the mill, AIM Development, to carry out the demolition. The project was originally estimated to cost $4.45 million and take until 2017. It began in late 2015.
AIM purchased the mill from Verso Paper Corp. early last year, after Verso shuttered the property and laid off more than 500 workers. Once the demolition is complete, the company plans to redevelop the site.
AIM has posted a performance bond to the town guaranteeing its completion of the project, and company officials have said they received a similar bond from DeNovo.
An AIM official did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the halted demolition and search for a new subcontractor. Vice President Jeffrey McGlin is reportedly on vacation and out of the country.
The news that demolition had stopped came as a surprise to local officials. Just a week earlier, a town official had met with McGlin and heard that everything was on track, according to Town Manager Lessard.
Lessard, who has communicated with AIM’s legal counsel, said the company’s bond agents are now looking for another contractor to pick up where DeNovo left off.
“The surety bond holder is stepping in and looking at options in terms of finding a new contractor to resume the work,” Lessard wrote in an email last week.
“[AIM’s legal counsel] said that this should happen fairly quickly. There is a site visit on Tuesday [March 15] for the purpose of assessing what remains to be done. Unpaid contractors will be paid by either DeNovo or the Surety Bonding agency and such vendors should make their claims according to the terms of their subcontracts.”
The region is still recovering from the mill closure in late 2014, and Bucksport officials have said the sooner the mill can be torn down and redevelopment begun, the better.
“I am optimistic that this means that demolition can move forward soon,” Lessard added of the search for a new subcontractor.