Health center, Bangor agree on property sale

Posted May 13, 2009, at 9:27 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Penobscot Community Health Center has agreed to buy from the city two buildings and a small piece of land on Maine Avenue that will allow expansion of its Union Street clinic.

The parcel and buildings are in the area of a building that formerly housed the University of Maine System offices.

The deal was approved Monday by Bangor city councilors and will be finished in the coming weeks, said the Rev. Bob Carlson, president of the health center.

“It’s very good news because it’s going to allow us to move our administrative personnel off the main campus and expand services there,” he said.

Penobscot Community Health Center, a nonprofit formed in 1997, provides health care and dental services to what Carlson called underserved populations of Greater Bangor.

During Monday’s City Council meeting, Carlson estimated that the health center provided about $700,000 in free care last year.

“We’re very pleased to be a part of this city and to be able to provide the services that we do,” he said. “Hopefully, this will allow us to do more.”

The health center is funded largely through federal grants, and Councilor Geoffrey Gratwick praised Carlson for stretching those dollars as far as his staff does.

“It seems to be a very attractive, efficient model,” Gratwick said.

City Manager Edward Barrett explained the details of the sale as follows: The city, which received rights to the property on Maine Avenue a few years ago, will sell it for $1.5 million. The sale will be financed by the city, rather than through a bank, at 4 percent interest over 40 years.

“When we took over ownership of those buildings, our interest was always in seeing them reused,” Barrett said. “This reuse is consistent to that area, which is adjacent to the Maine Business Enterprise Park.”

The city initially acquired the land in a swap with the University of Maine System in 2003. In that deal, the city got three buildings and land on Maine Avenue in exchange for space in the former W.T. Grant Building downtown, which is where UMS offices are now.

Two of those buildings and the piece of land were included in the sale to the health center, which will free an estimated 7,000 square feet of space at the main campus on Union Street, according to Carlson. The two buildings, Auburn Hall and a space known as the Annex, will be used for administrative offices while the land will be used to expand parking.

Carlson said if all goes well, administrative staff will be able to move in by Labor Day.

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