BANGOR, Maine — The city is looking to bring new life to a downtown location that hasn’t realized its full potential despite development and growth within the same building.
The Bangor City Council on Monday gave the go-ahead to issue a request for proposals from parties interested in developing a portion of the former Freese’s Department Store at 96 Main Street. Freese’s closed in the 1980s after more than 90 years in business.
The downtown location has since seen major overhauls and been redeveloped to house the Maine Discovery Museum on the bottom three floors, as well as 39 assisted living and elderly housing apartments on the top three floors. The rear third of the building facing Pickering Square also was developed into elderly housing apartments.
Another portion of the building — the lower three floors at the intersection of Main and Water streets — also was supposed to be developed into condominium units by Realty Resources Management, but the group never completed the project, according to Tanya Pereira, the city’s business development specialist.
The city acquired the deed for that unfinished condominium in a “friendly exchange” earlier this year, Pereira said after Monday’s council meeting.
“Preliminary information gathered by the city indicates that the space has good structural condition, but needs significant improvements to be usable,” the request for proposals states.
The request states that a total of about 15,200 square feet of space is available on the three floors. Pereira said the city wants “to get this into private sector hands … and put it into productive reuse.”
The property is in the city’s Downtown Development District, which means the potential uses range from business offices and retail space to day cares and recreation centers.
A walkthrough of the property will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, for interested parties. Proposals are due to the city by 2 p.m. Jan. 30, 2013.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the city received a gift from the mayor of Saint John, New Brunswick — a painting of the Saint John skyline and harbor. Pereira presented the painting to the council, and said the artwork would be displayed in Bangor City Hall.
Pereira said the painting was meant to recognize the 25-year-old sister city relationship between the two cities. Pereira and Bangor City Manager Cathy Conlow attended an October forum geared toward business and energy partnerships between Maine and New Brunswick. Maine Gov. Paul LePage also attended and spoke at that forum.
City councilors and officials from both cities have crossed the border to swap ideas, promote international business and trade and find ways to mutually benefit from the partnership.
“We’re committed to maintaining this as more than just a formality,” Pereira said. “We already have a lot of great longstanding relationships there. We want to be sure that door stays open.”
Also at Monday’s meeting, the council:
• Read a proclamation recognizing Fusion Bangor for the work it has done to support the Bangor region and its young professionals. Fusion Bangor is the area’s networking group of young residents. The organization works to connect the young demographic to each other, engage with the community and transform the Bangor region into the preferred place to live, work and play in Maine.
• Backed City Manager Cathy Conlow for a post on the board of directors of the Municipal Review Committee, an oversight group made up of representatives of the municipalities that send their waste to Penobscot Energy Recovery Co.
• Approved renewal of contracts between Community Connector and Husson University and Eastern Maine Community College. That agreement allows card-carrying students to ride for free. Community Connector has a similar agreement with the University of Maine.