As part of Old Town's efforts to revitalize the downtown, the city council approved purchasing 241 Main Street which currently is vacant. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

The city of Old Town’s economic development arm will purchase a vacant building in its latest move to breathe life back into its downtown area that suffered a blow from a large fire in 2019 and has been gradually building back.

The Old Town City Council on Monday approved the purchase of 241 Main St. for $200,000. The building, the former headquarters for McKay Shared Living Services on the corner of Main and Center Streets, has sat vacant since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Old Town economic development director E.J. Roach.

The purchase is the latest effort by the city to secure strategic downtown properties so it can focus on attracting new businesses to them.

The city plans to market the building with the site of the former Old Town Canoe factory, which is largely an empty lot that runs along Main and Center streets. The city has been trying to fill that space in recent years. 

Old Town has seen renewed interest from businesses in locating downtown, Roach said, with a number of spots filling up with businesses since the 2019 fire left a hole in the area.

Pastries de’Amor and Blind Tiger Coffee will soon occupy this storefront along Old Town’s Main Street seen May 2, 2022. The city has been working to revitalize the downtown since multiple devastating fires ripped through it. Credit: Sawyer Loftus | BDN)

“There’s been a lot of attention,” he said. “There’s some overall general good buzz around downtown.”

While there remains a vacant lot directly across from City Hall where buildings destroyed by the fire once stood, on either side of the lot are new businesses that weren’t there two years ago. 

Across the street, two more are moving in at the end of the week. 

The city last summer also tested out a “pop-up shop” mall on a portion of the former Old Town Canoe site. 

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Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is a reporter covering Old Town, Orono and the surrounding areas. A recent graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he's worked for Vermont Public Radio, The...