Gov. Janet Mills chats with developer Tim Harrington as they tour the second phase of construction Tuesday at The Lincoln, part of a day-long tour of Biddeford. Mills was scheduled to visit several downtown businesses, the Biddeford Regional Center of Technology and Maine Water. Tammy Wells Photo

BIDDEFORD — When Gov. Janet Mills came to Biddeford Tuesday, she had a schedule of spots to visit: the Lincoln Mill, some downtown businesses, the Biddeford Regional Center of Technology and Maine Water.

She toured the mill — bottom to top — including checking out a finished apartment and some others scheduled for completion in January. She viewed the space where a fitness center and a restaurant and brewery will be located and the ongoing construction of the 33-room Lincoln hotel, expected to be finished in the spring. Mills, along with Mayor Alan Casavant and others, climbed the stairs to check out the view of the city from the rooftop — where hotel guests will also be able to take a dip in a swimming pool.

“Biddeford is a happening place,” said Mills, back on the ground floor. “It’s beautiful, historic, comfortable and welcoming. And this mill is a big part of the rejuvenation of a historic city.”

The Lincoln Mill is a project of LHL Holdings, LLC, which includes developers Tim Harrington of Kennebunk-based Atlantic Holdings, and LLC  Chinburg Properties, headquartered in Newmarket, New Hampshire.

Matt Assia of Chinburg Properties and Mark Cotto of Atlantic Holdings, LLC, stand by as developer Tim Harrington chats with Gov. Janet Mills outside The Lincoln on Tuesday. The mill, being developed into apartments and a hotel, was among several stops Mills was scheduled to make while in the city. Tammy Wells Photo

Cameron Dewitt of Chinburg Properties, property manager of the Lincoln project and a Biddeford High School alumni, said construction has taken two years to date, but the effort to transform the cavernous mill started years before — Harrington pegs it at seven years.

Lincoln Mill was built in the 1850s and is one of several once-idle mills in Biddeford’s downtown that have been repurposed as living spaces and workspaces.

On the lower level of the vast, 240,000-square-foot mill building, where Impact Fitness Center and Batson River Brewing Social Club will locate, Harrington pointed to the windows.

“This was built before electricity, and look at how much light there is,” he said.

Some of the space in the two-story hotel lobby will sport shipping container pop-ups, featuring art galleries or shops.

Mills toured an occupied, light-filled studio apartment, one of 81 finished dwellings that were rented within three weeks of the announcement of their availability. The remaining 66 units are scheduled for completion the second week in January, said Dewitt.

The Lincoln Lofts dwellings are dog-friendly, company officials told the governor, pointing to a spiffy enclosed dog-wash room in one of the common areas.

“This building had been waiting for something to be done with it for years and it is finally happening,” said Biddeford City Council President John McCurry, one of several Biddeford city councilors taking the tour along with Casavant, Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau and State Sen. Susan Deschambault.

Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant and Maine Gov. Janet Mills view a finished apartment at The Lincoln Lofts during a tour of the former mill building on Tuesday. Tammy Wells Photo

Asked if he could have believed 20 years ago that Lincoln Mill and others could be transformed the way they have been, Casavant said no — because there was an economic downturn — and because Biddeford had the negative stereotype of a dying mill town.

That had to change. The stereotype had to shatter, said Casavant, and it did.

Biddeford, said Mills, is part of the beauty of Maine. The city is near the ocean, close to major highways, and is home to the University of New England.

“People come here because they feel a sense of community,” the governor said before departing Lincoln for her other scheduled stops.

Comments are not available on this story.