WESTBROOK – A former mill that is now billed as the “business and cultural center of Westbrook” has been placed in receivership.

Superior Court Justice Roland Cole signed a court order earlier this month effectively placing the Dana Warp Mill under new management.

People who are familiar with the court’s foreclosure order — initiated by the mortgage holder, Bank of America — said tenants can expect no significant changes in the way the building is managed.

The former mill has become home to tenants including a fitness center, a dance studio, a martial arts school, an acting school, a children’s center and Mad Gabs, which produces lip balms and balms for other parts of the body.

Tenants of the five-story red brick building, which overlooks the Presumpscot River, received packets this week notifying them of what had happened.

Keith Luke, Westbrook’s director of economic and community development, called the Dana Warp Mill, at 90 Bridge St., a landmark and a centerpiece of the city’s downtown redevelopment efforts. It is about a block from Westbrook’s downtown district.

Luke said tenants should not be overly concerned. He said the mill will be managed by CB Richard Ellis/Boulos Property Management of Portland.

“Boulos is committed to maintaining and marketing the property. What’s important for the (business) owners there to realize is that it’s business as usual,” Luke said Wednesday night.

In their packets, tenants found copies of the civil action filed in Cumberland County Superior Court, and Boulos’ cover letter explaining where they should send their rent. That letter was signed by Amy R. Booth, senior vice president for Boulos. She declined comment Wednesday.

Michael Levine is director of Acorn Productions, an acting school. Levine, whose first-floor offices are across the hall from Flannery Properties, said the mill’s owner, Tim Flannery, cleaned out his offices this week.

“It’s a big mystery (as to what happened),” Levine said, “though it’s hard to imagine that anything will change for us.”

Flannery did not return phone calls left at his office and on his cell phone.

In 1997, Flannery Properties acquired the mill, which opened in 1881, and began renovating it into a multi-use, modern office building.

The building has more than 250,000 square feet of space, according to Flannery’s website, which also calls the mill the “business and cultural center of Westbrook.”

The building was busy Wednesday night, as dozens of people attended classes for acting, martial arts, dance and jazz exercise.

Luke said he was not surprised that Bank of America foreclosed on the property. “Given the state of the economy, how shocked should we be?” he said.

Luke said that as the economy worsened, it drove down rents throughout Greater Portland, making the Dana Warp Mill less competitive.

Luke said Flannery was charging $4 to $8 a square foot, and rents in Portland have been falling closer to those prices.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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