Co-CEO and auctioneer Mike Carey (left) during the bidding process of the Presque Isle Inn and Convention Center with the buyer being a representative from SMC Real Estate (back-right) inside the Time Out Sports Bar on April 27. Credit: Paul Bagnall / The Star-Herald

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A local business has bought the former Presque Isle Inn and Convention Center following a Thursday auction.

SMC Real Estate of Presque Isle placed the winning bid at $795,000.  

The purchase could mean new life for the unique facility that has lodging, meeting and restaurant space. The longtime inn shut down suddenly in January due to code violations and a lack of attention by owner Cang Quach of San Francisco. The move forced out roughly 25 employees , most of whom lived at the hotel.

Tranzon Auction Properties of Portland announced auction plans in March.

“We had tremendous response and incredible interest for northern Maine,” said Mike Carey, Tranzon co-CEO and auctioneer.

Seven registered bidders attended from the local area and out of state, but most bidders were within 100 miles of Presque Isle, Carey said Thursday.

An SMC Real Estate representative who bid at the auction declined to be identified, but confirmed the purchase. Calls to SMC officials were not immediately returned.

Two pre-auction open houses on April 13 and April 20 allowed prospective buyers to tour the building, from its convention center and rooms to the restaurant and bar spaces. Around 20 people walked through the property on those dates, Carey said.

The facility had fallen into disrepair in recent years. Quach originally planned to restore the inn but did not follow through.  

“When you start to look at the property and think about needed improvements, today’s price was a fair price,” Carey said.

Code violations included missing ceiling tiles, sprinkler system deficiencies, and a fuel tank room that was not cleared as required through the state fire marshal’s office.

The hotel opened in the 1970s as the Swamp Fox Motor Inn, and became Keddy’s in the 1980s. Owners expanded and added the convention center. In 2000, Kevin Simmons opened it as the Presque Isle Inn & Convention Center, running it until he lost his battle with cancer in early 2021. Quach bought the property later that year.