Bangor Housing aims to turn former Freese’s store into downtown apartments, commercial space

Posted April 09, 2013, at 11:45 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Bangor Housing Development Corp. hopes to convert a long-vacant portion of the former Freese’s Department Store into apartments and commercial space.

The City Council on Monday night gave city staff the go-ahead to work exclusively with the corporation to negotiate a development deal.

Freese’s closed in 1985 after more than 90 years in business. The bulk of the building is occupied by the Maine Discovery Museum and 39 assisted living and elderly housing units on the top three floors.

“It’s a really neat space, there’s a ton of storefront on Main Street,” said Michael Myatt, executive director of Bangor Housing Development Corp., referring to the portion now vacant.

The corporation hopes to build 10 loft-style apartments, including studios and one-bedroom units, on the upper floors. Myatt said rent for those units likely would run $600-$700. The units will be geared toward people who work downtown and are looking to live in the heart of the city, he said.

At street level along Main Street, the corporation plans to open up the long-vacant commercial space. Myatt declined to reveal which group or groups he is talking with, but did say the commercial tenant could be “somebody that’s already downtown.”

Myatt said Monday that he isn’t sure how much the project would cost, but that it would be “well in excess of $1 million” to be financed by the corporation.

Last year, the city reacquired the property from Realty Resources Management, which was supposed to have developed the lower three floors at the intersection of Main and Water streets, after that project never came to fruition.

The city put out a request for development proposals for the downtown space at 96 Main St. last November.

Bangor Housing Development Corp. is a separate wing of Bangor Housing Authority, with its own board of directors and finances. Together, they oversee more than 740 apartment units at eight properties, making them the largest landlord in the city, according to Myatt.

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