May 26, 2018
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Penobscot County officials tour former YMCA to consider purchasing building

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
The Penobscot County Commissioners tour the former YMCA building in downtown Bangor on Tuesday. They are considering buying the building and surrounding propery to increase parking and other future use.
By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Penobscot County officials toured the former YMCA building on Hammond Street with a real estate agent Tuesday morning.

County commissioners are considering whether purchasing the building, located on a 1.6-acre lot across Court Street from county offices and the Penobscot County Jail, would be a wise investment for the county’s future needs.

The asking price is $725,000, or about $15 a square foot for the 51,000-square-foot building, according Bev Uhlenhake of Epstein Commercial Real Estate, which is listing the property.

Commissioners are not expected to vote on whether to make an offer on the property until their next meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

What the county really wants is the parking lot, which has about 83 spaces. If a portion of the former Y were to be torn down, the county potentially would have the more than 100 spaces it needs for personnel, including workers at the jail and the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office.

The county pays about $23,400 a year to the city of Bangor to rent parking spaces, according to Commissioner Peter Baldacci of Bangor. The city owns the lot next to the old police station and the lower lot that overlooks the Kenduskeag Stream.

If the county purchased the property, the building would need to have a sprinkler system installed. The heating system has not been converted to natural gas, a change the county made two years ago.

Since the the YWCA and YMCA in Bangor merged and moved into the Second Street facility in December, the county has used the former YMCA lot in exchange for plowing and sanding the lot, Penobscot County administrator William Collins said Tuesday. The cost of plowing and sanding last winter was $5,600 compared with the $10,500 the city had wanted for leasing 25 additional spaces to the county, he said.

Baldacci said that owning the building would give the county options to expand programming. Informal discussions with officials in small municipalities in Penobscot County have included the possibility of county officials doing tax assessments and/or handling requests for general assistance.

Several years ago, before the state took control of the county jail system but after the merger of the YMCA and YWCA was made public, commissioners informally discussed purchasing the building when it came on the market as a possible expansion site for the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office and the minimum security section of the Penobscot County Jail.

If the state were to turn control of the jails back to the counties, according to Baldacci, more space most likely would be needed.

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