A landmark factory in Portland, Maine, has been sold, with a big repurposing planned for the site it sits on.
For more than 100 years, the B&M bean factory, which sits just off I-295 on Casco Bay, has produced can after can of baked beans.
For Mainers and New Englanders, the factory is an iconic local landmark for the smell of molasses it produces and decorations it sports during the holidays.
However, B&G Foods, the factory's operator, has announced it has sold the building and the property to a new owner, a nonprofit called the Initiative for Digital Engineering and Life Sciences (IDEALS), which will redevelop the site. A major future use will be a new campus for the Roux Institute, a tech-focused offshoot of Northeastern University that is based in Portland.
The move follows a previously announced removal of an unused smokestack on the property that generated buzz in the area earlier this month.
"Like all of the paper mills closing, it's a change," said Kelsey Bush of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, who was sad when she heard the news that the factory's 86 employees would need to seek new careers.
Others, like John McCarthy of Ludlow, Massachusetts, who was visiting Portland on Tuesday, agreed.
"My gut reaction is it's very sad because, like a number of people in New England, we grew up eating B&M beans," he explained.
According to B&G foods, all of the 86 plant employees who are eligible will be offered "severance and career transition support."
According to a news release from the company sent to media on Monday afternoon, "in addition, The Roux Institute plans to support them through its portfolio of capabilities, including career connections with Maine employers, educational opportunities with academic partners, and possible student pathways into Northeastern University and The Roux Institute, itself."
The release added that "B&G Foods does not anticipate any disruption in production or the delivery of customer orders relating to the transition of manufacturing operations, which is expected to be completed during the fourth quarter of 2021 or the first quarter of 2022."
The actual sale of the factory "is expected to close by year-end."