Plans for the Belfast, Maine-based yacht builder and refitter, Front Street Shipyard to proceed with a $4m expansion have moved closer with the city administrators approving a credit enhancement agreement.

This important approval puts the company a step nearer to investing the US$4m in its proposed Building No 6, a 21,700ft2 build shed that will allow Front Street Shipyard to service and maybe build superyachts as well as other vessels such as ferries.

The reason behind the new Building No 6 would be to enable the yard’s 485 ton travel lift to enter the shed which it is unable to do with the other buildings on the site. This project has taken time to reach this stage with worked at one stage going to start a year ago. However, securing the necessary financing has taken a longer than expected time.

The Androscoggin Bank agreed to provide the finance but required more guarantees in case the yard faced a situation that would cause it to close.

In a quote to the Bangor Daily News, J B Turner, president and general manager of the shipyard, said: “Business has been crazy, we can’t get enough people to get all the work done. It is the busiest we have ever been. We’re already lining up jobs for Building 6. The shipyard expects the Building 6 expansion to add 40 jobs.

The credit enhancement agreement has been approved by the Belfast City Council with an LLC set up by Front Street Shipyard. In the event the shipyard defaults, the City Council will owe a penalty amount to the bank. Starting at US$400,000, the penalty amount is on a declining sliding scale as payments are met year-on-year.

Turner told the Bangor Daily News that he anticipates construction of Building No 6 starting April with completion due by September. In addition to the $4m investment in the building, a further US$600,000 is being paid out to buy the city-owned land on which the shed will be sited.