Seventeen months after completing the purchase, a New York-based real estate group led by developer Dash Davidson has completed nearly all the renovations on the historic building at 2 Hammond St. in downtown Bangor, built in 1911.
But even before the new owners were close to finishing the process of turning the upper two floors of the building into residential units, nearly all the apartments were rented, and the first tenants will start moving in next week — barely before the paint is dry.
“The market is really strong right now, and we were lucky enough to get a lot of interest early on,” Davidson said Monday. “There’s still a lot of demand for high-end apartments in Bangor.”
Davidson and his partners at High Tide Capital also purchased the building just up the street at 33 State St. in April 2021, a few months after purchasing 2 Hammond St. The building at the corner of State and Exchange streets includes the former location of Bangor Hydro Electric Company and the building that houses retailer City Drawers. Renovations on that property are well underway, though the project will not be completed until the end of this year. When it’s done, they will add 15 more apartments to the downtown housing inventory, for a total of 23 units including 2 Hammond.
Davidson said the process of bringing these old buildings back to life has been rewarding and fun, as his team unearths unique design elements and helps to realize the buildings’ potential.
“It’s been so cool to see all of this come together, and to breathe life into these buildings that have been dormant for so long,” he said. “Some of the views out of some of these windows haven’t really been seen by anybody for years.”
Clockwise from left: The bathroom in one of the apartments in the fully renovated historic building at 2 Hammond St. in downtown Bangor. A living room space; A view from the living room space. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN
2 Hammond St. was the last major building to be built in downtown Bangor before the Great Fire of 1911, and it miraculously survived the blaze despite being directly in its path. Over the years, it has housed several businesses and organizations, including Merrill Merchants Bank, the Hammond Street Senior Center, and most recently, the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce, which still occupies its first floor.
Contractors gutted the place, but saved a number of historic touches, like the original windows, and the concrete and steel core of the building that once housed a bank vault. The apartments start at $1,900 a month for a one-bedroom and $2,200 for a two-bedroom. Two of the apartments have access to a roof deck, and all have elevator access and on-site parking.
An old vault door from the historic building at 2 Hammond St. is left in its place in front of an apartment door in the fully renovated building, which now offers eight high-end apartments in downtown Bangor. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN
The only space that remains to be fixed up is the basement, a portion of which Davidson hopes to turn into a speakeasy-style cocktail bar and lounge, with an entrance located on the lower level of the building where Merrill Merchants once had a teller window, near the Charlie Howard Memorial Garden. He’s looking for potential operators for such a business, though the space won’t be ready until the summer.
“The city was incredibly accommodating and helpful in getting the permitting for that space, because it lies in the floodplain of the stream,” Davidson said. “We hope it will help connect the space between West Market Square and Exchange and State, and extend the nightlife footprint of downtown.”
33 State St. is an even more extensive renovation job, given the building’s warren-like network of interconnected hallways and stairwells, and the fact that it has been mostly empty for nearly 20 years.
The big challenge will be figuring out what to do with the main floor of the building, which housed the First National Bank between 1911 and the early 1930s, and Bangor Hydro Electric Company until 2004. The space, with its soaring ceiling, granite accents, original tiled floor and intricate art deco-style design, could house a lot of different businesses, though Davidson is considering a restaurant or market-style food hall.
Clockwise from left: Old signs will be left in place on a basement door of the building at 33 State St., which is being totally renovated to accommodate 15 apartments; A bag of old checks and papers from the 1920s and 30s, including this one, was found in a ceiling; Renovations are underway at 33 State St. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN
Davidson and his father, former Obama administration official Peter Davidson, fell in love with Bangor in 2020, after their mother experienced a serious medical emergency at their summer home on Vinalhaven, and spent a month in Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center’s intensive care unit. The care and support they received from the downtown community while his mother was in the hospital made him want to invest in Bangor, Dash Davidson told the Bangor Daily News in November 2020.
The Davidsons have now purchased more than $1.5 million in property in Bangor, and have their eyes on purchasing and renovating a third downtown building as well.