Developer plans to add 750 apartments to former Loring base

7 months ago

LIMESTONE, Maine — A company redeveloping part of the former Loring Air Force Base plans to add at least 750 new apartments to accompany the first major business at the site in years.

Portland-based Green 4 Maine LLC purchased 450 acres of the Loring Commerce Center earlier this year, hoping to revitalize the industrial and commerce park for the modern era. Green 4 Maine’s venture launched soon after DG Fuels, a Washington, D.C., startup company, announced plans to build a $4.4 billion sustainable aviation fuel facility. 

DG Fuels plans to create 2,300 jobs during construction and 650 permanent jobs after opening the facility.

To accommodate construction workers and attract those involved in future projects, Green 4 Maine will renovate 1950s-era apartment and dormitory buildings that once housed Air Force members and their families, according to the company president. The 750 units planned in the ambitious project, one of the largest housing proposals in Maine, would equal roughly half of Limestone’s total population.

Green 4 Maine President Scott Hinkel said that he and colleagues want to primarily create one-bedroom units designed for contractors and their employees working on the base temporarily. 

Hinkel said that Green 4 Maine is still working out the exact renovation costs and will know more once they secure a construction firm later this fall.

Ideally, renovations will begin in early 2024, with at least 150 units finished before DG Fuels begins sending construction workers to their site at Loring, Hinkel said. Renovating all 750 units will likely take a year and a half to complete.

The planned renovations come as Green 4 Maine begins to ink major deals with other startups, including an artificial intelligence research center and a space company looking to launch their own “spaceplane.” More companies mean more renovation projects that will need workers, Hinkel said.

“[The apartment units] will vary in size but will roughly be around 300 to 500 square feet,” Hinkel said. “We want to provide a comfortable homebase away from home.”

Currently, DG Fuels is leasing its 1,240 acres of land from Loring Development Authority, which has owned and operated the former base since its closure in 1994. The facility will produce sustainable aviation fuel using wood biomass converted from forests and farms.

The project could revive inactive rail lines between Limestone and Presque Isle, which DG Fuels would use to transfer biomass to their facility. The finished product would be shipped via an underground pipeline from Loring to Searsport.

DG Fuels plans to begin construction in late 2024 and hopefully finish in late 2028, said CEO Michael Darcy. 

The company has hired the engineering firm Black & Veatch, based in Kansas City, Missouri, to oversee construction at Loring and another DG Fuels facility being built near New Orleans. Black & Veatch will provide housing trailers for workers while Green 4 Maine continues apartment renovations, Darcy said.

Though Green 4 Maine does not own the land DG Fuels will sit on, Green 4 Maine hopes to purchase that property within the next year to further their mission of redeveloping Loring, Hinkel said.

For that reason, DG Fuels has already been discussing with Green 4 Maine how to reach out to local communities and potential employees prior to the facility’s completion.

“Green 4 Maine has been a good partner and we’re happy to be working with them,” Darcy said. “Northern Maine is set to become a real player in renewable energies and that’s what Green 4 Maine wants to do.”