WESTBROOK — A local real estate investor has taken over the loan on a former Westbrook mill and hopes to soon own the landmark building that’s home to a mix of small businesses and art studios.

Aleksandar “Sasa” Cook, who owns three other properties in Westbrook, purchased the loan on the Dana Warp Mill from Bank of America earlier this month. He expects to take ownership of the five-story brick building after a foreclosure auction in June.

Cook plans to continue to market the 250,000-square-foot building, which is 30 percent vacant, as a good place to grow a young company.

He also hopes to retain the 40-some existing tenants, which include Acorn Productions, Bakery Photographic Collective, Coupon Evolution and Mad Gabs, which sells lip balm and other beauty products.

“(Cook) sees the Dana Warp Mill as the pre-eminent small-business incubator in Greater Portland and southern Maine,” said Keith Luke, Westbrook’s director of economic and community development.

That’s a sentiment the city shares, Luke said.

The former spinning mill, built in 1881, was purchased in 1997 by Flannery Properties, which renovated it into a modern multi-use office building. Owner Tim Flannery, who couldn’t be reached for comment, defaulted on his mortgage in September, and Bank of America placed the building into receivership.

Since then, CB Richard Ellis/Boulos Property Management has been managing the building and will continue to do so, said Morris Fisher, president of CBRE/Boulos.

Fisher said the bank was in the process of foreclosing on the building when Cook purchased the $4.8 million loan at an undisclosed price. Although Cook now controls the loan, Flannery still technically owns the building.

Fisher said it’s a common situation with a few possible outcomes, including Flannery turning over the title to Cook or paying off the loan before the auction.

Otherwise, Cook will complete the foreclosure process and hold an auction, Fisher said.

“It’s my hope that we will own the building thereafter,” said Cook, who has been involved with plans for a methane fuels plant in Brewer and The Olympia Co.’s proposal to redevelop the Maine State Pier.

Luke said he talked to Cook about holding more public-oriented events at the mill to draw more people to the building and to Westbrook.

He said popular annual events like the Photo-A-Go-Go auction and Mill-ieau art show already attract potential tenants.

“We agreed we need to do a better job of harnessing that type of interest,” Luke said.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at: 791-6364 or at: [email protected]