Maine boatyard planning $4 million expansion

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Front Street Shipyard in Belfast, Maine, is moving forward with a planned $4 million expansion after city officials approved a credit-enhancement agreement.

According to an article in last Thursday’s Bangor Daily News, the addition of Building 6, a 21,700-square-foot warehouse-like structure would allow the facility to service and possibly build larger vessels like superyachts and ferries.

Finding financing for the expansion has been a slow process. It was originally planned for last spring, but was delayed while shipyard officials tried to find a way to underwrite the project. According to the BDN article, Androscoggin Bank agreed to finance the work, but wanted more security in the event that the seven-year-old business unexpectedly folds or can’t keep up with the payments.

J.B. Turner, president of Front Street Shipyard, was quoted in the article, saying “Business has been crazy, we can’t get enough people to get all the work done.”

He added, “We’re already lining up jobs for Building 6.” The yard expects that the expansion would add 40 jobs. It already has a 485-ton remote-controlled lift capable of hauling larger craft, but it doesn’t fit in any of the yard’s current buildings.

Last week, the Belfast City Council approved a credit enhancement agreement between the city and the LLC formed by the shipyard. If the shipyard defaults on the financing, the city will owe a penalty to the bank, according to Thomas Kittredge, Belfast’s economic development director.

Once all the terms are agreed to and approved, Front Street Shipyard hopes to start construction in April and move workers into the building by early September with the goal of bringing in work by the fall. One of the goals for the yard is to get into carbon-fiber ferry construction, building vessels for New York to Seattle and the new building would give the Turner and crew more leverage when negotiating those contracts.