HOULTON, Maine — Construction is under way at a new branch of a Houlton business that has had a longtime presence in another part of the community.
Though construction started last week, an official groundbreaking ceremony took place Tuesday on the future site of The County Federal Credit Union. The newest branch of the bank will be located at 247 North Street.
The $1.2 million project will relocate the facility from its current spot at 13 Market Square into a larger space that will feature a 500-square-foot community meeting room that civic groups will be able to reserve for meetings during the workday and after-hours.
Bank administrators hired TLA Architecture Services of Portland and Buildings Etcetera of Houlton to design and build the more than 3,500 square foot, single-story building.
The bank is expected to be completed this fall.
“The County Federal Credit Union’s newest branch will offer members ample parking, a two-lane drive thru, and a drive-up ATM,” said Ken Hensler, president and CEO of The County Federal Credit Union.
“We plan to add staff to our Houlton branch to even better serve our members.”
The current branch serves more than 4,000 members. Branches in Houlton, Caribou, Presque Isle and Fort Fairfield together serve more than 16,400 members in 55 communities in Aroostook County.
The latest move by the bank represents an ongoing change of business structure in the community. North Street and the North Road area have expanded into the town’s primary business district, as stores, shopping centers, banks and restaurants have increasingly moved away from Market Square, which was once the business hub of the community. Town officials have taken steps to support growth in the North Road area by designating a part of the route as a tax increment financing development district, or TIF.
Tagged as an economic development device, TIF aims to enhance and entice investment in a specific portion of a town. Establishment of TIF zones helps stimulate economic development, guard or create jobs and encourage investment to bolster business growth. The proceeds from such activity can be used for development projects.
During elections on June 12, taxpayers voted to spend $1.6 million in tax increment funding to extend water and sewer lines in the area so that more businesses can tap into town water and sewer services.
Once construction is complete, the new Houlton branch of the bank will feature a 27-foot replica of Gateway Crossing, the town’s pedestrian footbridge, which connects North Street with Market Square. The replica will suspend from the ceiling.