BANGOR, Maine — Hobby Lobby and Buffalo Wild Wings are poised to open late next month along Stillwater Avenue in spite of one of the rainiest summer months on record, according to the developer of Stillwater Crossing.
“The contractors up there are awesome, they’ve been killing themselves to stay on schedule despite the weather,” Vincent Maietta, principal owner of the development, said Monday.
Maine saw 20 days of rain in June, dumping more than twice the normal precipitation, according to the National Weather Service in Gray.
Buffalo Wild Wings, a sports-themed restaurant franchise with more than 850 locations nationwide, and Hobby Lobby, which runs a chain of more than 520 craft stores from its Oklahoma headquarters, will be joined by two or three stores that have yet to be determined, Maietta said.
“We’re in negotiations with four potential tenants right now,” he said.
Maietta declined to say what those businesses were, but did say they were all national chains. He said he expects those deals will be ironed out in the near future. The two or three tenants will occupy a third 10,000-square-foot building.
The 7,200-square-foot Buffalo Wild Wings building will be complete next week, according to Maietta, but it won’t open until late August because the company needs time to train and prepare employees.
Hobby Lobby will occupy a 55,000-square-foot building on the site.
Along with this new Stillwater development, some residents have questioned why they can’t take a convenient left turn onto Stillwater from the I-95 North off-ramp, across from the entrance to Kohl’s.
Some drivers take that forbidden left turn anyway. Others drive straight into the Kohl’s entrance but make a U-turn at the end of the median before turning right onto Stillwater so they can head toward Broadway.
Art Morgan, Bangor’s director of public services, said those situations are “far from ideal,” and that a legal left turn at the intersection would make it safer and likely wouldn’t hurt traffic flow.
However, there is a “permanent prohibition of left-hand turns” leaving that off-ramp because of concerns raised by East Side residents when the interstate exit was built around the turn of the millenium.
Residents at several public hearings said they didn’t want motorists to be able to turn left onto Stillwater because it might increase traffic in residential areas. With new development popping up away from the mall, more residents are saying they want the ban lifted, Morgan said.
The no-left-turn rule could be lifted, but the city needs to petition the Maine Department of Transportation, according to Morgan. A survey went out with some 8,600 Bangor sewer bills asking for residents’ opinions on the subject, and about 2,000 have been returned. No tally was available, but Morgan said there is heavy support for the change.
After an environmental review, public hearings and receiving MDOT approval, the change would need the OK from the Federal Highway Administration, which funded the ramp project, according to Morgan.
Once it has a chance to receive and review surveys, the city could sit down with MDOT and begin the process, but nothing has been scheduled at this time.
“I think that it would be a good move,” Morgan said of allowing a left-hand turn. “It’s certainly a popular move.”