Calif. firm buys former Belfast dry cleaner

A California company that specializes in environmental remediation has purchased the Em Bee Cleaners building on Church Street in Belfast. The dry cleaning business closed last summer, but purchaser Good Earthkeeping Organization plans to renovate the three-story wooden structure and use some of it for office space. Bangor Daily News photo by Abigail Curtis
A California company that specializes in environmental remediation has purchased the Em Bee Cleaners building on Church Street in Belfast. The dry cleaning business closed last summer, but purchaser Good Earthkeeping Organization plans to renovate the three-story wooden structure and use some of it for office space. Bangor Daily News photo by Abigail Curtis
By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff
Posted Dec. 23, 2010, at 12:50 a.m.

BELFAST, Maine — A California-based environmental cleanup company last week purchased the three-story Church Street building that was home to Em Bee Cleaners for more than 50 years and plans to renovate it starting in the spring.

“We were visiting some friends in Belfast and literally fell in love with the town,” said Graham Geckeler, the chief financial officer of Good Earthkeeping Organization of Corona, Calif. “It wasn’t something that was planned out. It was just a convergence of events.”

One of those events was a trip to Em Bee Cleaners, a 7,900-square-foot wooden building that was one of few to survive the two fires that razed much of the city in the 1800s. Its co-owner, Connie Sarnacki, told them about the history of the building — which at one time boasted a heavy printing press — and they liked what they saw, Geckeler said.

“Believe it or not, the building’s in really good shape. We’re looking forward to renovating,” he said.

Em Bee had been for sale. The business closed in July. Efforts to reach Sarnacki Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Belfast development director Thomas Kittredge said that the city is glad the building has a buyer.

“While it’s too bad that Em Bee Cleaners had to close up shop, we’re excited that a new owner has come in and is considering revitalizing one of our important downtown properties,” he said.

The city of Belfast has indicated that it is ready and willing to help Good Earthkeeping Organization with incentives, if required. So far, Belfast hasn’t offered any dollars, and the incoming company hasn’t requested any, he said.

Geckeler said that his company does large-scale environmental cleanup work in a green, ecologically friendly way, with about 30 employees. Jobs include a lot of work on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Superfund sites, he said.

The buyer is planning to expand to New England and anticipates renovating some rooms on the second and third floors of the Em Bee building for office space.

The current first-floor tenant, Archangel Computers, will be able to stay in place during the renovation process, Geckeler said.

The company also plans to look for new tenants, he said, potentially including a green dry cleaner. It also intends to establish businesses there.

“From the macro overview of Belfast, I think there’s a good product mix in town for tourists,” Geckeler said. “Most of the ideas we have swirling around are designed to cater to residents’ needs.”

BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY ABIGAIL CURTIS

A California company that specializes in environmental remediation has purchased the Em Bee Cleaners building on Church Street in Belfast. The dry-cleaning business closed last summer, but purchaser Good Earthkeeping Organization plans to renovate the three-story wooden structure and use some of it for office space.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/12/23/news/calif-firm-buys-former-belfast-dry-cleaner/ printed on July 26, 2014