Stillwater Avenue in the vicinity of the Bangor Mall witnessed something of a “boom” in building during 2013.
The addition of retail businesses in the mall area began in March with the opening of Five Guys Burgers, a national franchise that first came to Maine when a store was opened in Portland in 2011.
“We were told about the strong trade areas around Bangor,” said Gene Prentice, vice president of operations for the ownership group operating Five Buys franchises in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine. “So we looked at downtown Bangor and Orono. We thought the Mall area pulled from a very large area with good visibility.”
Including a seasonal outdoor dining area, the 2,700-square-foot store seats approximately 80 customers.
Buffalo Wild Wings, located at 461 Stillwater Ave. in Stillwater Crossing near the Bangor Parkade and the Interstate-95 Stillwater Avenue ramps, opened on Aug. 25. The restaurant brought jobs for 140 employees, according to Becky Wilson, co-owner and general manager of the eatery.
The 7,200-square-foot building seats 280, with room for more on the patio during the summer months.
This is the fifth Buffalo Wild Wings store for Wilson’s franchise group, Pictor Enterprises. The others are in Auburn, South Portland, Newington, N.H., and Rochester, N.H.
“I really like it up here,” Wilson said. “Everyone has been so receptive to us coming in here and accommodating and so nice, and they’re all so excited. It’s very pleasurable to be here and to do business here.”
Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts supplies store occupying a 55,000-square-foot building, opened in September next to Buffalo Wild Wings. Hobby Lobby runs a chain of more than 520 craft stores from its Oklahoma headquarters.
sweetFrog Frozen Yogurt, owned by Doug and Alison Reed of Hermon, opened in October next to Five Guys Burgers. The Bangor franchise employs approximately 20 people.
Sweet Frog is a national chain based in Richmond, Va. The Bangor location is its northernmost in New England. The Reeds said they got involved with Sweet Frog because of its family-friendly feel.
Town Fair Tire, which opened Nov. 25 between Kittredge Road and the upper Bangor Wal-Mart entrance off Stillwater Avenue, is the latest business to add to the march of progress in the Bangor Mall area. The company sells and installs tires and rims and offers tire alignments.
The construction project went well, indicated Town Fair Tire Regional Manager Kevin O’Roak. “All the contractors were local contractors. We bought all new equipment, which we do with all our stores. The city [of Bangor] was great to work with. I’ve opened seven of our stores, and this was by far the smoothest that it’s gone.”
In recent years, the Bangor Mall area has seen the construction of a new Home Depot, followed by other stores such as The Dollar Tree, the Super Wal-mart, Lowe’s on the old Wal-Mart site, Kobe restaurant and the redevelopment of the old Shaw’s store to accommodate the Christmas Tree Shop.
Currently, construction is underway on a building at 878 Stillwater Ave., located near Five Guys Burgers and Sweet Frog, that will house Mattress Firm, a national mattress company. The bedding company has more than 1,340 stores nationwide, mostly located in Florida and Texas.
Mattress Firm already has two locations in Maine, one in Augusta and one in Topsham.
Other projects in the mall area that Bangor officials are not yet at liberty to discuss are underway, according to Tanya Emery, the Bangor economic and community development director.
The old Circuit City building and the old Home Depot building are still empty and seeking tenants.