BREWER, Maine — The city is planning to preserve the historic property located at the corner of Wilson and North Main streets — known as the Archer Block — in pictures before the now unsightly building is torn down to make improvements to the city’s downtown. The plan is to “provide a narrative history and both historic and current photographs to preserve the history of the building,” Tanya Pereira, Brewer economic development deputy director, said on Friday.
The city has been working on a plan to improve the Main Street corridor for several years, with one component being removal of the deteriorating building on the east side of North Main Street to make room for off-street parking and a small park that will greet those entering the city from the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge.
“It’s such an eyesore right now,” Deb Harman, owner of Pretty Woman, located next door at 39 North Main St., said Friday. The plan is to install “something welcoming for those coming across that bridge.”
She told the City Council in February that she moved her business to Brewer from Orono two years ago after hearing about the planned downtown improvements and was disappointed that little had been done.
“I really liked Brewer’s vision,” Harman told councilors.
Councilors Manley DeBeck, Larry Doughty and Joseph Ferris said they also have wanted to see improvements made at the intersection.
“We’re as frustrated as you are,” DeBeck said. “I wanted that building gone two years ago.”
“This is excellent news,” Harman said Friday.
The plan for the property is to use leftover 2005 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds, set aside for Brewer to purchase and develop land along the Penobscot River, to pay for a portion of the cost of purchasing and demolishing the building, D’arcy Main-Boyington, Brewer economic development director, has said.
The City Council endorsed signing a $116,000 purchase and sale agreement for the Archer Block property two years ago, but the closing was put on hold while Maine Historic Preservation officials reviewed their plans.
The state agency decided the two-story building is eligible for a historic preservation designation and required steps be made to mitigate the building’s removal and preserve it for future generations, Pereira said.
“They want to have it memorialized in some way,” she said.
Councilors will consider the historic preservation agreement during their meeting Tuesday. Council approval of the agreement, the last of several requirements to qualify for HUD’s economic development initiative funds, is needed before the federal dollars can be released and the final paperwork is signed, Pereira said.
Tentative plans are to begin demolition of the two-story building this spring or early summer.
“This is a big deal,” Pereira said.