The former Bangor YMCA on Hammond Street, now owned by Penobscot County, literally is falling down.
Bricks are falling off the front corner on the Court Street side of the 132-year-old building. On Tuesday, there were bricks strewn on the lawn, and the county is looking into installing temporary fencing to keep people away from the building, according to County Administrator Scott Adkins.
Commissioners have given up on the idea of repurposing the building after a report completed last year concluded that it would be more prudent to tear down the brick building that has fallen into disrepair and to build a new structure to house offices for the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office.
The county has quietly put the building at 127 Hammond St. up for sale, hoping for a buyer who will construct affordable housing units after demolishing the former home of the Young Men’s Christian Association, Adkins said earlier this week.
“There is no specific price on the building, but commissioners hope to get back what they paid for it,” he said.
The county bought the building in 2017 for $825,000 after it was condemned by the city, with the idea of renovating it to house women inmates and also use it as an intake area. That proved to be too expensive because of the building code requirements for jails.
penobscot county’s ymca deal
Commissioners then decided the site should be used for a modern 200- to 300-bed, eight-story jail. That plan was abandoned after a public outcry over the preliminary plans that were shared with the Bangor City Council.
Bangor officials also declined to go along with changes, including closing off access to Court Street from Hammond Street, needed for the new jail project to go forward.
Penobscot County initially bought the building after plans to turn it into a denturist school in 2013 fell through. Commissioners first offered to buy the 51,000-square-foot building in 2011 after the YMCA and the YWCA, located on Second Street, merged. The county was outbid by Lovley Development Inc. of Newport. The asking price at the time was $725,000.
Greg Lovley sold the building two years later to William Buxton, one of the founders of New England Denture Center. Buxton died in 2016. The following year the county bought the building from his estate.
County commissioners have struggled since then to determine the best use for the building and spent thousands of dollars to clean up trash on the grounds and in the parking lot.
The late Thomas J. Davis Jr. of Kenduskeag, who served as a county commissioner from 1984 until his death in August 2018, often opined that the only good use for the former Y was to tear it down and turn the property into a parking lot that county employees could use during the day and downtown visitors could use in the evenings.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed the age of the former YMCA. It was first constructed in 1891 and designed by Wilfred E. Mansur.