The former Hostess Brands bakery, once one of Biddeford’s largest employers, is now in the hands of a New York-based private equity firm that specializes in buying and selling food manufacturing facilities and other corporate assets.

The new owners, who bought the site for almost $7 million, have already put it back on the market for $11.7 million.

The transaction has ignited city officials’ hope that the sprawling property, which employed 380 people before shutting down in 2012, could again generate much-needed jobs and tax revenues

“This is a very good thing to happen,” said Daniel Stevenson, Biddeford’s director of economic development.

Hostess Brands filed for bankruptcy and shut down the factory in 2012, after years of financial problems and a strike by the bakery union.

The plant in Biddeford made chocolate cupcakes, Sno Balls and other baked goods. Last year, Georgia-based Flowers Foods bought the facility as a part of a larger acquisition of several Hostess bread brands.

For months after Flowers took over, company officials were noncommittal about their plans for the Biddeford site. Some former Hostess workers held out hope that it would reopen.

The property includes a 265,000-square-foot building and a 40-acre lot, which are assessed by the city at nearly $17 million. The 16-year-old building has 32 loading docks and a truck maintenance facility.

Flowers had listed the property for sale for $8.45 million. An ownership group called Biddeford Holdings LLC, which is a partnership between New Mill Capital and Gordon Bros., a Boston-based investment firm, bought the property for $6.85 million, said Tony McDonald, a partner with CBRE|The Boulos Co., who brokered the deal.

The deal closed on Oct. 24. Seven days later, the new owners put the property on the market.

The group is also marketing the building for lease at $5 per square foot. The new higher sale price is based on “its potential use for food or beverage production,” McDonald said.

For the city of Biddeford, the sale of the property to a firm that specializes in selling sites like this is good news, said Stevenson.

He has already met with New Mill representatives about marketing the site. If the New Mill group sells or leases the building, it will create needed jobs in Biddeford, and generate more property and equipment tax revenues.

“That really helps stimulate other businesses and the local economy,” Stevenson said. “The longer a vacant building stays out for sale or lease, the longer it’s not creating jobs or economic value.”

Given the building’s proximity to Interstate 95, “it has a lot of economic life,” he said.

It may be tough to find a single tenant for the 265,000-square-foot space, and it may turn out that two or three businesses move in.

The layoffs at Hostess were among several major closures in Biddeford announced in recent years that put hundreds of area residents out of work.

WestPoint Home closed its textile manufacturing operation in 2009 and laid off 121 workers. Lowe’s Home Improvement closed its doors and laid off 101 workers in 2011. In 2013, Flotation Technologies, which manufactured flotation devices, laid off 40 workers.

“Those were really big hits,” said Stevenson. “They put a lot of people out of work and affected families.”

That said, there have been a string of positive developments in recent years.

In 2013, Market Basket redeveloped the former Lowe’s site at Biddeford Crossing and opened a 107,000-square-foot store there, which created more than 400 jobs. Stevenson said that more than 80 percent of the city’s commercial and industrial spaces are occupied, and a cluster of new medical office buildings – including a dialysis center and an adult day-care center – are now under construction.

In September, Southern Maine Medical Center opened a 46,000-square-foot medical office building in the Robert G. Dodge Business Park to house offices for internal medicine, orthopedics, neurology and rehabilitation services.

“We’re starting to see some really good healthy growth with high-value jobs in the last 18 months,” Stevenson said.

“And beyond the jobs, these developments also drive permitting revenues and tax growth. We’re starting to get these pockets of activity that will continue to stimulate growth.”

Jennifer Van Allen can be contacted at 791-6313 or at:

[email protected]