October 18, 2017
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Selling visitors center in Houlton challenging, says marketer

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

HOULTON, Maine — While a number of interested businesses have called about the Visitors Information Center located just off Interstate 95, selling the property is going to remain a challenge, according to the group the town hired to market it.

The property’s rural location has led most callers to opt not to look further into a potential purchase, Erik Urbanek, managing director of SVN/The Urbanek Group told town councilors during their regular meeting Monday evening.

“Getting someone up here to take a hard look at this has been challenging,” he said.“ That is why we are looking to get a local developer to purchase it.”

The center offers maps, brochures and other information about Houlton, Aroostook County and the rest of the state.

Six years ago, Houlton took ownership of the center after Maine Department of Transportation officials announced they were considering closing it in order to save money. Costs to maintain the property proved to be higher than officials expected, however, and the town decided to market the property.

The town since has spent about $150,000 on maintenance fees, but also has received some financial assistance from the Maine Office of Tourism, Aroostook County and MDOT.

Urbanek said that one of the benefits the property has going for it is that it is pretty much ready to move into, as the property is flat and developable and had already acquired most land use permits.

Councilor Rosa McNally asked how many phone calls the firm is getting about the property each week.

“A call every other week,” said Urbanek. “They want to know the conditions of the sale. I would say 10 to 15 are from qualified developers.”

Urbanek said he believes the land would best be sold to a local developer who has a purchasing partner either in or out of state. He noted that banks or retail stores might be a good fit for the site.

Thus far, he said, no one has taken the trip up to look at the property.


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