June 18, 2018
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Bangor chamber signs lease on new waterfront headquarters

Michael J. Dowd | BDN
Michael J. Dowd | BDN
20 South St. in Bangor.
By Whit Richardson, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce on Thursday announced plans to move into new headquarters on the city’s waterfront.

The chamber’s board of directors on Thursday approved a lease agreement for office space at 20 South St. in Bangor. Chamber CEO John Porter signed the lease on Wednesday with the building’s owner, Larry Springer, a real estate investor in Brewer.

The organization has been looking for a new, permanent headquarters since 2011, when it was displaced from its longtime home in Bass Park to make way for the new Cross Insurance Center. The chamber has been temporarily housed in a city-owned building near Bangor International Airport.

“We think it’s a really nice spot to have a visitor’s center, and for us to be located given everything going on on the waterfront,” Porter told the Bangor Daily News on Thursday. “That’s an area that still holds possibilities. It’s exciting to be down there and be part of what could become another great vibrant part of the city.”

Porter would not disclose the lease terms. “We got a favorable but not ridiculous deal,” he said. “We’re paying a fair market price.”

However, any rent is higher than the $1 per year the chamber is paying the city for its current space, and the $1 per year it shelled out in Bass Park.

“So obviously it will bring additional expense to the chamber,” Porter said.

As a result, the chamber’s board is considering whether it will need to increase membership dues in order to cover the new expense, Porter said. If the board does deem it necessary, dues wouldn’t increase more than 10 percent, he said. Current annual dues range, depending on the number of a company’s employees, from $200 to nearly $2,000.

Its new home is 3,500 square feet, which is slightly larger than its Bass Park address, Porter said. The chamber’s lease allows it to bring in a nonprofit partner to share the space, which could defray costs, Porter said.

Additionally, the chamber will begin a “mini campaign” to raise some funds to outfit the new space with furniture and signage, Porter said. He hasn’t crunched the numbers yet, but he estimated it isn’t likely to cost more than $35,000.

The chamber currently has seven employees — six full-time and one part-time — and 835 members, according to Porter.

The chamber plans to move into its new headquarters on Oct. 1.

“It was important that the chamber find a location where we could contribute to the growing vibrancy of the city,” Jane Irving of Bangor Savings Bank, current chair of the chamber’s board, said in a statement. “This location speaks to a new era of success for both the city as a whole and the chamber.”

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