The Call of the Land
PROFILE Point East – JUNE 2007
By Joshua Bodwell
Photography Darren Setlow
Some tracts of land are beautiful, others are captivating, and a rare few are quite simply majestic. For Scott Houldin, the rugged landscape of Wiscasset’s Birch Point peninsula is one of those rare pieces of land.
These days, Houldin spends a great deal of time working in Maine as the project manager for Point East Maritime Village, a large redevelopment project on the site of the former Mason Station power plant. But his regular trips north from Connecticut are nothing new—since childhood, Houldin has spent a lot of time in Maine, first at his grandparent’s farm in Phillips and then at the Swans Island home his parents purchased. “One way or another, I’ve spent every summer of my life in Maine,” says Houldin. “So being a part of this project is a perfect fit for me.”
Point East is a subsidiary of National RE/sources, a Connecticut-based firm that specializes in the redevelopment of old industrial sites. The group purchased the former power station and its 33 acres along the Sheepscot River in 2003. Point East broke ground last summer on Maritime Village, a development that will eventually include 80 single-family cottages; 160 condo units; retail space for restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries; and a 239-slip marina that will be run by the Hinckley Company, a renowned Maine boatbuilding and marine-services firm.
Birch Point is a gorgeous knob of land surrounded by coves on two sides and the deep water of the Sheepscot along its frontage. Houldin speaks in reverent tones when discussing the peninsula. But Joe Cotter, president and principle of National RE/sources, is intimately connected to the land.
Several generations ago, Cotter’s wife’s family owned a large portion of the Birch Point peninsula. But in the 1940s, the land went to the government to help support the war effort. The former coal- and oil-fired Mason Station provided supplemental power for the then-booming Bath Iron Works. When FLP Energy announced that it might decommission the plant and sell the land, Cotter leapt at the opportunity to buy it.
“My wife’s family used to live on Birch Point,” Cotter says, “and it just feels right to reclaim the waterfront for them and for the community, and reopen a peninsula that has been closed for the last 70 years.”
“Point East will not be a gated community,” Houldin says. “We’re making this land really accessible to anyone.” In addition to providing space to launch kayaks, the Maritime Village will be connected to the trail system on the neighboring conservation land managed by the Chewonki Foundation. The community around the peninsula, Houldin says, has been an important part of the planning process. The Maritime Village stands to pump roughly one-and-a-half million tax dollars a year into the local economy; there will also be approximately 40 new jobs created by the Hinckley Marina, up to 100 in the Village’s retail operations, and only Maine-based contractors will be used in the construction. The Kennebec Company is already contracted to supply kitchen cabinetry, and Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers will offer furniture packages for the cottages.
In addition to the Maritime Village, Point East is making further investments in Maine: the company recently purchased more than half of the 800 acres on which the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant was located, and it’s in the process of transforming the area into a high-tech industrial park.
“The unspoiled beauty and nature of Maine is a huge part of why we’re here and doing these projects,” Houldin says, “but our family connections to the state make it even more special for us.”