MILLINOCKET, Maine — Plans by the nation’s largest retail farm and ranch supply chain to open a store at the Northern Plaza Shopping Center have been delayed but not halted by problems with the building, one of the deal’s negotiators said Tuesday.
The building’s “wet” sprinkler system and lack of rear-area heating and its 50-year-old transformer are among the latest of delays that have frustrated a good-faith effort on both sides to make a lease agreement that would allow Tractor Supply Co. to open its latest Maine store, said Dan Corcoran, a broker with North Woods Real Estate handling the deal for Northern Plaza.
“There are just issues with the building that keep popping up,” Corcoran said Tuesday. “It has been one problem after the other. We are working through them and getting close to a lease deal. All of these problems are slowing it up.
“Both parties are anxious to put a deal together as soon as possible,” Corcoran added.
Michael F. Graham, media relations specialist for Tractor Supply Co., has said the company hopes to open a storefront store at the plaza off Route 11 sometime this summer.
Negotiations between the landowner at the former Ames store in the Northern Plaza Shopping Center and Michigan-based DMK Development, the retailer’s preferred developer, have been continuing for more than a year.
The heavy renovation the space needs and the company’s desire to do it within its budget have absorbed most of the time, said Corcoran, the landowner’s property manager and contracted real estate broker.
Tractor Supply’s opening in Millinocket has been the subject of much speculation in the Katahdin region, Corcoran noted. Aside from about a half-dozen thrift stores and a Family Dollar outlet, the region lacks a large-scale general supply retailer and a standalone clothing store.
The closest are in Lincoln, about 32 miles from the plaza.
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 all-terrain vehicles.
Its stores in Maine include outlets in Augusta, Bangor, Brunswick, Dover-Foxcroft, Houlton, Lewiston, Oxford, Presque Isle, Sanford, Scarborough, Skowhegan and Wilton, according to its website. A store in Windham is under contract to open this spring, company officials have said.
Another 30,000 feet of the 49,000-square-foot former Ames store are available and are being reviewed by other retailers, Corcoran has said.
Tractor Supply will use another 13,000 square feet of parking lot space for outdoor displays.
Corcoran has had workers in the storefront getting it in push-broom-clean shape. Two weeks ago, Bangor Hydro refused to hook up electricity to the building because it has a transformer that is 50 years old, Corcoran said.
Last week, the workers discovered that the “wet” or constantly-charged sprinkler system ran through the unheated portion of the rear of the building, prompting fears that the pipes would burst in cold weather, Corcoran said. Those problems are being rectified as quickly as possible, he said.
“Nothing ever happens as fast as you’d like,” he said.
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