PORTLAND, Maine — The nonprofit art exhibit and concert venue Space Gallery has purchased the Congress Street building housing it in an effort to preserve affordable downtown working space for artists.

Mainebiz on Tuesday first reported news of the $1.45 million sale of the building at 534-538 Congress St., where the Space Gallery has occupied the first floor since its founding in 2002. The sale closed June 30.

Nat May, the gallery’s executive director, said the nonprofit arts organization made the purchase to keep artists working in the city’s downtown as rents continue to rise.

The property was owned by Portland architect and designer Christopher Campbell, through his company Pickwick Properties LLC, which purchased the building in 1999 for $165,026, according to city records. It was built in 1900.

The city’s last assessment in 2014 put the taxable real estate on the building’s 25,930 square feet at a value of $924,100.

May told Mainebiz the building includes the Pickwick Independent Press and Space’s individual art studios, which together have working space for 48 artists.

Space Gallery took out a $1.04 million mortgage from Bangor Savings Bank for the purchase. A second mortgage from the White Pine Foundation and outside fundraising helped cover a $410,000 down payment on the Bangor Savings mortgage.

Mainebiz said the nonprofit is seeking to fundraise another $538,000 through major gift solicitations to support the balance of the purchase.

Nat May, executive director for the nonprofit, said the studio space and art and concert venue programs will operate under separate budgets, both as programs of the Space Gallery.

Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.