One of downtown Bangor’s most prominent blocks changed hands earlier this month, with the new owners pledging to boost the business district’s commercial corridor.
Real estate broker Tim McClary and three other business partners bought 1-35 Central St. as well as 23 and 25 Hammond St. for $1.2 million from Paul Cook on Sept. 1, according to city records. That price matches the property’s assessed value from April.
Cook had previously listed the property for $1.3 million in July 2017, but the deal fell through after the couple slated to buy it backed out, he said.
He had owned the property, known as the Stetson Block, since 1999. The lot is spread across four buildings that stretch along Central Street between the Kenduskeag Stream and the intersection of Central and Hammond streets in the heart of downtown Bangor.
Cook said he chose to sell because he hadn’t had time to regularly maintain it.
The Stetson Block, which was built in 1914, houses food establishments including Bagel Central, the Grind House coffee shop, 11 Central and Bangor Sandwich Company, the Briar Patch bookstore, and office suites on the upper floors.
McClary declined to name his partners, and business records did not list any other names.
But the broker said that his company, 207 Capital LLC, would sign leases with all of the buildings’ tenants, allaying fears that the Stetson Block would go the way of 27 State St., after a group led by New York developer Dash Davidson bought that building and told 20 businesses to leave by the end of August.
“We are doing the exact opposite play,” McClary said, calling his new purchase the “centerpiece” of downtown Bangor. “We really want to double down on the commercial.”
He pointed toward another building at 2 Hammond St., where a group led by Davidson added high-end apartments, and said the businesses in the Stetson Block could easily serve the residents moving there.
“We think the combination of having all of these really nice, high-end apartment buildings that Davidson and his crew are doing complements the ability for businesses to really get a foothold in this area,” McClary said.
“Keeping it commercial versus renovating into residential is kind of a complementary play for downtown Bangor as a whole,” he said of the Stetson Block.
The new owners are negotiating a lease to open a restaurant in the 23 Hammond St. storefront where Bahaar Pakistani operated until Cook evicted the owners last spring, but McClary declined to name the restaurateur.
A handful of business owners said they welcomed the new ownership, like Briar Patch owner Gibran Graham, who said that McClary and his partners “seemed to understand the value of ground-floor independent businesses in the downtown [area],” like his bookstore and Bagel Central.
Michael Towle, who co-owns 11 Central with his wife Melissa Smith, said he had begun a rapport with McClary and his partners after they began replacing his restaurant’s windows and repairing the roof to prevent heat from leaking.
McClary said he would also apply for funding from the city’s downtown facade grant program to replace the buildings’ exteriors.
“It’s a fresh set of eyes, giving a fresh feel to the building,” Towle said. “Seeing proactive owners come in and want to get a better return on their investment and improve their investment is definitely a good sign for tenants.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information about leasing arrangements with Stetson Block tenants, and about the displacement of businesses from 27 State St.