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A year after Yarmouth arson fire, developers rebuild on Route 1

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A year after Yarmouth arson fire, developers rebuild on Route 1

YARMOUTH — The anniversary of the fire that destroyed a commercial building at 500 Route 1 is being marked with the hope for new business opportunities.

Although the fire displaced more than two dozen small businesses, property owners Art and Elizabeth Dyer are rebuilding and hope to welcome new tenants by spring.

The fire on Jan. 2, 2009, was set by Everett S. Stickney of Exeter, N.H., a man who was sentenced in November to 11 1/2 years in prison. He was ordered to pay $3.7 million in restitution to the displaced business owners and their 14 insurance companies. Damage was estimated at about $3.5 million and more than $1 million was lost in uninsured costs.

After a financially difficult year, Elizabeth Dyer said, she and her husband decided it was time to redevelop the building and start again. She said Stickney's sentencing provided the closure she needed and the ability to move forward.

While the tenants experienced the loss of their businesses and other financial hardships, she said that as the owners of the building, she and her husband suffered the greatest financial loss.

"It was our nest egg that went up in flames," the Harpswell resident said. "This is the scariest thing we've done in this economy, but everything fell into place, and every step of the way we received help from knowledgeable people who knew about developing."

The new two-story office building will be constructed by PM Construction Co. of Yarmouth and will be a little more than 18,000 square feet. Dyer said the previous building was three stories and 22,000 square feet.

"We are hoping for tenants who need office space, like medical, dental and insurance companies," she said. "We are looking for quality, professional businesses who want to be located in Yarmouth."

A few people have shown interest, Dyer said, but no one has signed a lease.

"My motto for this year is 'That was then, this is now,''" she said. "This process has encouraged growth for us. It has pushed and stretched us in ways that have made us stronger."

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net