BIDDEFORD — On Tuesday, the City Council voted unanimously to approve two orders in connection to the Lincoln Mill project.

The first order authorizes the city to pursue repairs of the Lincoln Street sidewalk, from where it intersects Elm Street, north of the mill, to where it intersects Main Street. The work will include installing plumbing and electrical wiring underground.

The second order effectively forms two agreements between the city and Atlantic Holdings, LLC, which is the company that is purchasing the Lincoln Mill from Odyssey Properties, LLC.

Atlantic Holdings is planning an estimated $50 million development for the former mill building with construction expected to begin this year, according to city officials.

First, the city has agreed to lease property adjacent to the north end of the mill, between Pearl Street and Saco Falls Way, to Atlantic Holdings for a 99-year term for $1; however, the city will retain air rights over that property, which is currently a parking lot.

What that means is that Atlantic Holdings will need to consult with the city before constructing anything there, explained City Manager John Bubier on Wednesday.

“We’d have to have a discussion about what goes over this area in the future,” said Bubier. In the future, he said, it’s likely a parking garage or other multi-story building could be erected there.

The north side of the mill, he said, will become the new Lincoln Mill’s main entrance, possibly including a porte-cochere, which is the covered area where vehicles enter and exit, often when checking in to a hotel.

As part of the second order that was passed Tuesday, the city has also agreed that it won’t allow for the construction of a hotel on the former Maine Energy site, at 3 Lincoln St., for five years following the date at which Atlantic Holdings finalizes its purchase of the mill or for three years following Atlantic Holding’s commencement of hotel operations there, whichever comes first.

“It’s a pretty standard request by a hotel chain when they build something like this,” said Bubier, “especially in a small community.”

The site at 3 Lincoln St. is less than 500 feet away from the Lincoln Mill, so this component of the order ensures Atlantic Holdings won’t face competition from another hotel, at least temporarily, he said.

There are, however, a couple of exceptions to the hotel restriction.

First, if Atlantic Holdings does not “substantially complete” its proposed improvements to the mill within three years or it abandons the development of a hotel within the mill, the restriction will be “null and void,” according to the order. Second, the hotel restriction will no longer apply if “a major entertainment, sports or special events venue” that requires on-site hotel space is constructed at 3 Lincoln St.

For example, said Bubier, if a 5,000-seat sports arena were to be constructed at 3 Lincoln St., “demand would be created” for more hotel space, and in that situation, hotel rooms could be added to the property.

The Lincoln Mill project has been hailed by many as the crowning accomplishment of Biddeford’s long-pursued downtown revitalization. On Wednesday, the city’s planning board reviewed and signed off on the final plans for the project.

Atlantic Holdings plans to add an 81-room hotel, 96 residential units and two restaurants to the Lincoln Mill, at 17 Lincoln St. The company is expected to finalize its purchase of the mill from Odyssey Properties on Jan. 16.

— Staff Writer Angelo J. Verzoni can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]

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