From Manhattan to Millinocket to Madawaska

Admittedly, I haven’t followed every development in the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City.

I certainly haven’t paid much attention to minutia like, for example, who actually owns the land which the NYC occupiers were, well, occupying.

But this morning, news reports came across the wires that hundreds of police officers had evicted dozens of occupiers from Zuccotti Park in Manhattan.

According to an Associated Press story, early this morning, NYC police “handed out notices from Brookfield Office Properties, owner of Zuccotti Park, and the city saying that the park had to be cleared because it had become unsanitary and hazardous.”

Brookfield – now that’s a name that’s been heard in Maine.

Brookfield has divested itself of some assets recently here in the Pine Tree State – most notably, the mills in Millinocket and East Millinocket – but remain major land and infrastructure owners here.

It’s an interesting example of how inter-connected the world of business has become, with some very large companies having a variety of interests all over the globe.

Brookfield Office Properties is part of Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management. It owns Zuccotti Park, as well as the adjacent One Liberty Plaza, a 54-story skyscraper. According to the corporate website, Brookfield Office Properties owns a number of other buildings in Lower Manhattan, Midtown and across the river in Jersey City – not to mention two State Street buildings in Boston and numerous other properties in D.C., Houston, L.A., Denver, Minneapolis, and in other metropolises worldwide – right down to the big cities in Australia.

More locally, earlier this year, Brookfield Asset Management shut down the paper mill in East Millinocket on April 1, laying off 415 workers.

Cate Street Capital of Portsmouth, N.H., purchased the mill in escrow from Brookfield Asset Management this fall, hired back about 215 workers and began making paper last month.

Before making the sale, Brookfield got the state to take ownership of the Dolby Landfill to clear the way for any possible deal. The landfill is almost full of mill wastes and other trash, and represented a huge potential liability to any potential mill purchaser. State legislators agreed to assume ownership of it, and an estimated $17 million liability, from mill owner Brookfield Asset Management despite complaints that the deal was “corporate blackmail.”

While divesting itself of those particular assets, Brookfield remains a property owner in Maine. Brookfield owns 51 percent of the Twin Rivers paper mill (formerly called Fraser Paper) in Madawaska.

The company has significant hydroelectric facilities on the Androscoggin and Penobscot Rivers. And its Acadian Timber division owns 311,000 acres all over Maine, as well, according to the website.