MILLINOCKET, Maine — A national company is in negotiations to lease a sizable chunk of the former Ames Plaza and revitalize what was once the Katahdin region’s premier shopping center, officials said Thursday.
Don Kettler of Don Kettler Real Estate Services of Michigan confirmed that Tractor Supply Co. is interested in leasing the former Ames store in the Northern Plaza Shopping Center off Route 157.
“I don’t know for a fact that the negotiations have concluded yet, but they have been in negotiations,” Kettler said during a telephone interview on Thursday.
If a deal concludes, about 18,000 square feet of the 49,000-square-foot former Ames store will be extensively renovated and leased, with another 13,000 square feet of outside parking lot area also being used by the store for outdoor displays, said Dan Corcoran, whose Millinocket real estate agency represents the plaza owners in the talks.
Tractor Supply Co. describes itself as the leading retail farm and ranch store brand in America, according to its website, tractorsupply.com.
Based in Brentwood, Tenn., Tractor Supply offers men’s and women’s clothing, home improvement items, livestock supplies, welding and metalworking items, and sporting goods equipment, particularly snowmobiles and ATVs.
It has 10 locations in Maine, including stores in Bangor, Lewiston, Presque Isle and Skowhegan, according to its website.
“It is encouraging that they are showing an interest in the future of this community,” Corcoran said Thursday.
He said he didn’t know how many jobs such a place might bring with it.
Besides having about 4,800 residents and being at one end of the Golden Road, one of the state’s primary conduits for logging and other forest products industry operations, Millinocket is finishing construction of a network of all-terrain vehicle trails starting at the town’s snowmobile clubhouse and connecting to networks statewide.
If a deal occurs, the plaza space the company would lease will get a new roof, heating and ventilation systems, sprinklers and extensive renovation, Corcoran said. The parking lot also would be repaved.
Corcoran believes that the store’s presence would go a long way toward getting the rest of the 49,000-square-foot space leased to more businesses, including hardware store operators.
“I have already been contacted by other retailers,” said Corcoran, who has been working on this deal since last winter.
The center already includes a Dollar Store, Serenity hair salon, pizza restaurant, events center and large food store.
It was once home to the Ames, the region’s largest single retail center, but fell on hard times starting just over 10 years ago, falling into disrepair and contracting as the region’s paper mills contracted.
Since 2007, however, the center has gotten something of a face-lift. The cracked and chipped sidewalks have been repaired, the windows have been professionally power-washed and the roof has been patched. Lights, wiring, air conditioning and plumbing were fixed, and six truckloads of trash and lawn debris were hauled away.
Facades, awnings and support beams also were repainted.