10/30/2013 2:00:00 PM Former Hockomock Hollow Comes Down
The former Hockomock Hollow on Route 32 in Bremen is undergoing demolition this week. (Nancy Wilson photo)
By Nancy Wilson
The former Hockomock Bottling Company building on Route 32 in Bremen will soon be demolished to make way for a new shellfish processing plant. The plant will be an expansion of current operations by local processor Community Shellfish LLC.
"This is a natural spin-off from the [co-op], and it shows the continuing cooperation with the co-op," said John 'Boe' Marsh, the founder of the company. "It will benefit not only Bremen, but also the surrounding area."
The new venture will bring more jobs to the area, to the lobstermen, fishermen and clam diggers, as well as the people who shuck and pack the shellfish for sale on the wholesale market.
"At present, there is no processing plant anywhere near us," Marsh said. "We ship everything out. If we were to do the work here, we could provide jobs, and keep that money in the local area, and that's what it's all about ... giving to the community. It will keep the jobs here, locally."
At the moment, Community Shellfish is working out of the Bremen Lobster Pound Co-op, but that will change in the next few months.
Right now, a building on Route 32 Hockomock Hollow, as it is known, is under demolition. Marsh plans to construct a new building, entirely dedicated to processing shellfish of all kinds: clams, lobsters, shrimp, crabs, scallops when in season, and perhaps even oysters.
Originally a restaurant and general store, the building became the Hockomock Bottling Company for a while; its last known use was as 'Stache Foods, Stuart Blackburn's sauce-making plant. In disuse now for many more years, it was a ideal site where Community Shellfish could build.
The Bremen Planning Board did grandfather the planned building from undergoing the commercial and industrial site plan ordinance's review process since the site met the ordinance's definition of "use," board Chair David Koubek said previously.
The related section of the ordinance reads, "A use of land or buildings lawfully existing at the time of adoption of this ordinance is exempt from the provisions herein, providing there is no change in use thereafter," according to the minutes of the board's Aug. 13 meeting.
"The building, which was formerly the Hockomock Bottling Company, had been maintained and the electricity had been left on and the equipment within the building was all in place. Therefore the definition of 'use' did qualify," Koubek said.
John 'Boe' Marsh.
After looking the building over carefully, Marsh had realized it would be unusable, and unsafe, as is. "It was too far gone," Marsh said.
"There was a lot of good wood in the building, so I offered it to some of the builders in the area," Marsh said. "They could have it, for free, if they would just take it away, to build a garage, or an addition, or whatever they wanted to do with it."
The builders started work last week, and by the time the demolition team comes in Oct. 30, much of it will already be gone.
Marsh said previously he hopes to have the new building complete by the first quarter of 2014.
"After the lot is leveled, and the site cleared, we'll start work on the new building," Marsh said. "Final plans for the new building are still being made, but we expect to begin work on our new shellfish processing plant soon."
Marsh said he expects to hire possibly 20 people to work once the building is complete. Marsh added Department of Economic and Community Development spokesman Jaimie Logan had been a tremendous help to him as he was working through all the requisite paperwork.
"This activity, keeping it here, will give added value to the area," Marsh said. "We will add jobs, offer better prices to the fishermen, and have better marketing. The community and this local Midcoast area will all benefit from this when we are up and running."