The owners of a downtown Bangor inn and restaurant and events center have bought a historic neighboring building on French Street. While the purchase gives the owners of the Tarratine Inn and affiliated restaurant another property on the same block, it has displaced almost a dozen people from their apartments in a tight rental market.
Tricia and Bob Quirk, who own The Tarratine restaurant and nearby Tarratine Inn, bought the historic George K. Stetson House at 208 French St. on March 2 for $850,000, nearly $500,000 above its assessed value of $373,000, according to city records.
The property had housed 10 tenants who paid $650 to $950 per month to live there, according to long-time resident Maureen Simon, who had surveyed her fellow renters.
For renters like Simon and Emily Mitchell-Storer, the building’s sale means the loss of another affordable housing option in Bangor as the city contends with a rising cost of living and limited affordable rental options for low- and median-income residents.
Bangor has made a number of zoning changes in recent years to try to spur the development of new, affordable units but hasn’t been able to attract new development, providing landlords and homeowners the advantage in a red-hot real estate market.
Tricia Quirk confirmed that she had asked the tenants to leave so she and her husband could renovate the property, which they said had code problems like flammable gas stoves and broken windows. It also suffered fire damage in January 2021, when police accused Sunil Jones of lobbing two Molotov cocktails at the back of the building. Quirk said she planned to add in a sprinkler system, which the building currently lacks.
Bob Quirk said he and his wife had been interested in buying the property for years before the March sale.
Tricia Quirk said she hasn’t made a final decision about what to do with the property after renovations are complete.
“We haven’t decided that it won’t be regular rentals,” she said.
The Quirks also own the empty lot next door at 200 French St. in addition to the Tarratine Inn at 194 French St. and the Tarratine restaurant at 81 Park St.
Simon and her boyfriend had been paying $750 per month for a one-bedroom apartment at the Stetson House, where they had lived for three years. Mitchell-Storer paid $650 a month, and had been there for almost six years.
Tricia Quirk told tenants on March 8 that they had to move out by April 15 so she could renovate it, according to a text message that the Bangor Daily News reviewed. Maine requires landlords to give 30 days’ notice before evicting a resident. None of the Stetson residents had leases, Simon said.
While Simon, an Uber driver, was able to find a new place in Winterport, her former neighbors haven’t been as lucky to find affordable options in Bangor’s “atrocious” rental market, she said.
“Prices are absolutely insane right now,” she said. “They couldn’t afford to give us two or three months with everything going on?”
Mitchell-Storer said she struggled to find an apartment on her fixed income that could house her and her cats. She recently found an apartment with a six-month lease that, at $770 a month, is more expensive and much smaller than her apartment at the Stetson House.
“It was the cheapest I could find, by a landslide,” Mitchell-Storer said, adding that initially she could find only three units in her budget and they were single bedrooms, not apartments.
“Everything else is insanely overpriced, and most are over [$1,000 a month],” she said.