BUCKSPORT, Maine — Town officials are in discussions with a developer of assisted living facilities potentially interested in the Jed Prouty building, a former hotel that has anchored Bucksport’s Main Street for more than two centuries but has sat vacant in recent years.
A couple identified by town officials as John and Rhonda Chambers of Washington County have expressed an interest in converting the 228-year-old building into an assisted living complex for elderly residents of all incomes.
The couple has approached Bucksport officials about receiving financial help from the town to help pay for the substantive and costly renovations that would be required to convert an aging building that has been uninhabited for at least six years.
On Thursday, Town Council members voted to hold a public hearing on Sept. 29 to solicit feedback from the community about whether the municipality should help foot the bill to redevelop the historic property.
Town officials have been working for several years to find a new buyer for the former Jed Prouty Inn and Tavern and have even discussed purchasing the property from the bank that now owns it.
Estimates to rehabilitate the old building range from $180,000 to $300,000 on top of the purchase price of the building. Town Manager Roger Raymond said Thursday evening that the town might be asked to contribute $150,000 to $200,000 toward the renovations in some form or another, but the council wants to hear back from residents before venturing too far into negotiations.
The project, if completed, could meet two goals of the Town Council, Raymond said. It would provide affordable assisted-living housing to local senior citizens while making sure “the Jed Prouty continues to be a focal point for the downtown area,” Raymond said.
“Because if something does not happen to that building soon, it is going to end up on the chopping block,” Raymond said Thursday evening.
Dating to 1783, the three-story building originally was constructed as a double house by a prominent merchant in Bucksport. The building was converted to an inn around 1820 and provided accommodations to four presidents, according to a brief history posted on the town’s website.
But the building has sat empty for much of the past quarter century. It was home to an assisted living facility for several years about a decade ago, but that business failed.
The Chambers operate several assisted living facilities in Washington County, Raymond said.