BANGOR, Maine — The former owner of an iconic downtown property who lost his title for failing to pay taxes on time will get a chance to earn back the building.
City councilors on Monday night approved an agreement with David S. Boyd of California, who owned the vacant six-story structure at 73 Central St. until the city took it over for unpaid taxes last month. The vote was 8-1, with Councilor Gibran Graham casting the lone dissenting vote.
Under the terms of the agreement, Boyd will submit a plan for the redevelopment of the long-vacant property, including financing guarantees and detailed construction plans and timetables. He’ll have to improve the building’s facade, resolve issues with the sprinkler system, remediate mold issues and renovate the first floor into commercial space.
Boyd also will have to pay back taxes totalling $35,000. Assuming these terms are met, the city will return the title for 73 Central.
If he doesn’t meet the terms, the city will continue to hold ownership of the building and likely would seek other developers.
City officials say Boyd had missed tax deadlines in past years but paid before the liens matured. This year, however, one of the liens did mature, and the city took steps to take over the building. By law, when a lien matures, the ownership automatically passes to the holder of the lien — in this case, the city.
When Boyd heard about the city taking over 73 Central, he flew to Bangor to apologize and offer a $35,000 check and ask counselors to reconsider. The council voted to take possession of the building anyway, but it left the door open to discussions about how he might be able to earn the building back.
Boyd started discussions with city staff, which brought a proposal to the city’s Finance Committee last week.
Councilor David Nealley thanked Boyd for “stepping up to the plate” and said he was confident this could be a good project.
Councilor Joe Baldacci said Boyd had shown “a significant amount of good faith” over the past month.
However, while councilor Graham said he wished Boyd “the best in his development plan, given his past record, I don’t have a lot of faith in his follow through with 73 Central.”
“I also believe that his proposed plan does not fully take into account both the assets and needs of the property and downtown Bangor,” he added.
Boyd has drawn up a lease with Jeshua Serdynski, who is part of a team trying to start Ragnarok Coffee Society in 73 Central’s first-floor storefront. The artisanal coffee shop had a failed Kickstarter campaign last year but continues its effort to open, and it has $100,000 in equipment with which to start the business.
Boyd has estimated renovation costs to get the first floor opened up again at $250,000. He has said he would consider renovating the upper floors, which have been vacant for even longer, in the future. A building-wide overhaul would cost millions and wouldn’t be feasible in the immediate future, he said.
Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.