A 5-acre, four-building property along the Penobscot River in Bangor that once included a trolley car warehouse and was home to Bangor Hydro Electric’s operations center for decades has been purchased by former Maine gubernatorial candidate Shawn Moody.
Moody, the founder and owner of the Moody’s Collision Centers chain of auto body shops, intends to turn the property at 678 Main St. — formerly owned by Emera Maine — into a repair center for commercial vehicles, including light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks. It will be Moody’s first expansion into commercial vehicle repair — as his other collision centers primarily service personal vehicles — and his company’s second location in Bangor.
“This has been in the works for three years now, and I’m just so happy that we all stuck with it and were able to see this through,” said Moody, who finalized the purchase of the property just last week. “Everything happened at the right time.”
The original Moody’s Collision Center opened in 1977 in Gorham. Since 2000, the company has expanded across the state, opening new locations and acquiring other body shops initially in Cumberland and York counties, and eventually expanding to Lewiston and Augusta in 2011 and 2013. Moody’s entered the Bangor and Ellsworth markets in October 2019, when it acquired the two locations of Glidden Auto Body, a longtime collision repair company. There are now 13 Moody’s Collision Centers statewide.
In addition to his collision repair businesses, Moody ran for governor in 2018, defeating Garrett Mason, Ken Fredette and Mary Mayhew to become the Republican nominee. He lost in the general election to Democrat Janet Mills. He also ran for governor as an independent in 2010, and former Gov. Paul LePage appointed him to seats on the boards of both the University of Maine and Maine Community College systems.
The property at 678 Main St. was purchased by the company formerly known as Emera in several stages in the early 20th century. Before it was renamed Bangor Hydro Electric Company in 1924, the company was known as the Bangor Railway and Electric Co., which was founded in 1889 and operated Bangor’s extensive trolley system, as well as its electrical supply.
As the company grew and trolleys gave way to automobiles, the Main Street property began to be used solely as an operations center for Bangor Hydro. Trolley service in Bangor ended in 1945. Bangor Hydro existed until 2001, when it was sold to Canadian company Emera and began operating under the name Emera Maine. In March, another Canadian company, ENMAX Corp., finalized its purchase of Emera Maine, and last month rebranded the utility as Versant Power.
Trucks and equipment were moved from Main Street out to Versant’s new facility in Hampden in 2015 and 2016, and by 2017, all operations were located in Hampden. The Main Street property has been empty ever since.
“We are so pleased to see this property sell to someone that is committed to redeveloping it and contributing to Bangor’s economic growth,” said Judy Long, Versant Power spokesperson.
The property, which was purchased in a deal brokered by Epstein Commercial, contains four buildings. The largest is a 30,000-square-foot garage, which will be the primary location for Moody’s truck repair center. For more than 80 years, that building housed the electric utility’s fleet of power trucks, making it an ideal location for a commercial truck repair center.
“This place was already full of trucks to begin with, so in terms of the building itself, it’s ready-made for this sort of thing,” Moody said. “This will get us into a new space, as far as our business goes. We can do priming, sandblasting, body work, all kinds of things.”
Moody is still weighing ideas on how to use another building, a 22,000-square-foot office building built in 1929. One of the ideas he is considering is opening a coworking center, offering low-cost office space in a shared workplace, similar to CoVort in Bangor and Think Tank Coworking in Portland, Biddeford and Yarmouth. He has also tossed around the idea of a restaurant in the rear part of the building, as there would be space for a rooftop dining area with views of the Penobscot River.
The other two buildings on the property are a 1,600-square-foot office building, which Moody said he intends to lease out, and a nearly 5,000-square-foot quonset hut, which he plans to use as storage space. The rest of the five acres is composed of open space of mixed grass and gravel. The property’s total assessed value is about $2.1 million.
If all goes according to plan, Moody expects to begin accepting trucks for repair by October. He also hopes to partner with local educational centers such as Northeast Technical Institute to offer professional training in truck repair. Moody’s already has an apprenticeship program at its collision centers, and he wants to offer a similar kind of hands-on classroom program in Bangor.
“Bangor has a real legacy of trucking, between Pottle’s, Hartt, Dysart’s. It’s kind of the trucking capital of the state,” Moody said. “And I also hope more people will take note of these kinds of properties, and how they can be redeveloped.”