BANGOR, Maine — The Whig & Courier was as packed as it’s been for any busy lunch hour crowd, but the people shoehorned into the popular downtown pub late Wednesday morning weren’t gathered at 14 Broad St. for food or drinks.
About 50 people, many of them former patrons, gathered to watch or take part in an auction of the entire four-story building housing the bar and restaurant; a second-floor banquet and meeting space, public bathrooms and apartment; and two more apartments on the next two levels.
The 6,800-square-foot property, which was assessed at $322,900 by the city of Bangor this year, sold to high bidder Dan Sykes of Bangor for $355,000, plus sales tax and almost $25,000 in outstanding debts accrued by previous owner Chris Geaghan.
“It was pretty nuts, but I decided to go for it anyway,” said Sykes, president of Internet dating service Anastasia International, Broadway Properties and D.E.S. Properties LLC. “I tried to hang loose until it was almost over and then keep inching it up until we got it.
“We had sort of a guideline price and we got it for substantially less, so we’re very happy,” he added.
The final price tag winds up being $436,471.61 after including $60,350 in sales tax, $16,187.73 in real estate tax (2009-2011), $2,790.84 in personal property taxes (2009-2011), $1,770.96 in water and sewer fees (2009-2011), and $372.08 in downtown development taxes.
The outstanding debt was accumulated by Geaghan, who has owned the property since 1997. He and his wife, Michelle, declared bankruptcy in June 2009. He was not seen at Wednesday’s auction.
The pub has been open since 1984, and at its current location since 1986.
“This is an historic building, so we don’t foresee us being slowed down reopening it,” said Sykes, whose headquarters is located at 40 High St. He also owns property on Main Street in Bangor. “We’re hoping to be opening again quickly.”
A native of Long Island, N.Y., Sykes also is president of local building company Elk River Development Co.
“We feel this is at the center of the revitalization downtown and this is the place to be,” said Sykes, who lives with his wife, Elena, and three children on Broadway in Bangor. “This is becoming an epicenter of a downtown that is drawing a lot of people to the area.”
The auction, which attracted at least a dozen bidders despite a mandatory $20,000 deposit to be able to bid, took just 19 minutes to complete, despite a couple of two-minute breaks requested by bidders.
Keenan Auction Co. broker and auctioneer Stefan Keenan conducted the auction, which started out as a reserve auction in which Camden National Bank did not have to accept the final bid if it was below a desired amount.
“In these kinds of auctions, it’s not uncommon to take breaks to give buyers time to make decisions,” Keenan said. “When I came back and said this is now an absolute [binding] auction, the bidding started to take off at $250,000.”
Accounting for the square footage of the property, the auction price means the property was bought for $55.88 a square foot.
“We’ll be owning this as landlords, not restaurateurs,” Sykes said.
This is Sykes’ first foray into restaurant property ownership.
Sykes, 44, used to be an independent documentary filmmaker. After making much of his money by investing in real estate in Russia, where he lived for two years, he now is involved in Internet technology and real estate development.
“We own a company called IT Online that develops websites and database technology,” Sykes said.