Bangor Housing Development Corporation has some plans in the works to revamp residential and commercial property in downtown Bangor.
They gave Caitlin Burchill a sneak peak.
The former Freese’s Department Store building holds many memories for people in Bangor.
“We walk a lot of people through this and everyone’s got a story about this building…most of the stories were how they were kicked out of the building because they were fooling around, looking to see Santa Claus, or riding the escalator. It’s really cool history,” said Mike Myatt, Executive Director of Bangor Housing.
The Maine Discovery Museum and assisted living units are there now, but there’s still a lot of unused space.
Bangor Housing is doing something about it.
“For us, I think this is going to be about a million dollar investment. You’ll see you’re sort of starting from scratch to do a lot of the interior work…for us, we’re thinking this is 15,000 square feet. We’re going to inject new commercial investment downstairs and ten apartments between the 2nd and third floor. We’re going to pay property taxes and I think it’s exactly what downtown needs,” said Myatt.
Once the proposed plan passes through City Council, Bangor Housing hopes to have businesses and people moved in by this summer.
“This is the best part of the building. The view of Main Street…There just seems to be so much energy and vibrancy downtown. You’ve got this beautiful historic space that’s not being used in any way and to be able to transform that and have it be part of the vibrant downtown. I think that’s a good thing,” said Myatt.
This week also marks the start of demolition of houses on First Street, another redevelopment project taken on by the private, non-profit.
“Earlier this year we acquired six buildings down on First Street with the intent to raise those buildings and build new affordable apartments for working families downtown,” said Myatt.
For those worried about the safety of the area, Bangor Housing thinks this project will help.
“Those streets are a great neighborhood with a tremendous amount of potential. You have the Second Street Park right there. And if you look at all the activities, job opportunities, services that residents would need…they’re all right there. They’re all walkable,” said Myatt.
Bangor Housing is hoping to work with the City to finalize plans for this project within the next few months.