Orono takes out loan to build parking facility near proposed credit union building

Posted May 13, 2013, at 10:34 p.m.
Last modified May 14, 2013, at 8:22 a.m.
Proposed site plan for Katahdin Redevelopment Site.
Illustration courtesy of Town of Orono
Proposed site plan for Katahdin Redevelopment Site.

ORONO, Maine — Orono’s town council unanimously approved a proposed $2 million loan to construct a public parking facility at the Main Street and Bennoch Road intersection.

The area known as the Katahdin Redevelopment Site once contained the Katahdin Building, which stood at the intersection of Main Street and Bennoch Road since the 1820s. It was gutted by a fire in June 2009. After what remained of the building was razed, Orono town officials focused on redeveloping the site.

After a 6-0 vote on Monday, Orono will use a $2 million loan from USDA Rural Development in General Obligation Bonds. University Credit Union will construct its headquarters on part of the site.

Town Planner Evan Richert said on Monday night that he hopes for the 10-month project to begin in July.

Matthew Walsh, UCU’s president and CEO, said in February that the credit union and the town signed a memorandum of agreement on the project with UCU in January 2012 and have been working on schematics, designs and property acquisition since then.

The UCU headquarters building — a 16,000-square-foot Greek Revival-style structure — will consist of two wings and include drive-through lanes, a parking area and an urban plaza, Orono Town Manager Sophie Wilson and Richert said in February.

According to the development pact, UCU will be responsible for the building, the town will build an 88-space parking lot and the two parties will share the cost of developing the urban plaza.

Wilson said the plaza — which will have seating, a sculpture and other amenities — will serve as a community gathering spot.

Design and construction will make up $1,375,000 of the budget, while $550,000 will be for property acquisitions and $75,000 is slated for demolition of a nearby apartment building and its recreational building.

The new headquarters building will enable UCU to pull together about 20 administrative staff now working in three locations — the main office on Rangeley Road on the University of Maine campus and the technology center on Park Street, both in Orono, and on Union Street in Bangor.

The move also will free up space at UCU’s growing retail locations, Walsh said. He said the Park Street building will be sold.

Walsh said in February that UCU will occupy about a third of the building and he hopes to find other businesses to share the rest of the space.

“The building is about 16,000 square feet and we’re leasing out about 4,500 square feet,” he said.

BDN writer Dawn Gagnon contributed to this report.

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