PITTSFIELD, Maine — A long-dormant industrial building will be the site of commerce again, a district manager for General Electric told the planning board Monday.
The blue paint on the building at 158 Industrial Ave. in the Pittsfield Industrial Park has faded with time, and weeds now dominate areas where employees once parked. Most of the windows are blocked with plywood and inside, ceilings and walls still bear the evidence of a nasty vandalism spree. Despite all that, GE Energy Services’ New England District Manager Justin Boudreau says the building is “in nice shape” and represents the promise of General Electric’s Maine re-entry into a niche field it abandoned here years ago.
“I’m not doing this because I like the building,” Boudreau said to a reporter after explaining his project to the planning board. “I want to grow our business here.”
Starting in 1978, GE Energy used the building as its Apparatus Service Center, where all sizes of electric motors, transformers and generators were overhauled and repaired. Operations there ceased in 1993 with GE moving those functions to Massachusetts. But Boudreau says the corporation now seeks to reverse that decision and regain some of its lost customers in Maine.
In its new role, the building will house office space plus a commercial area of about 15,000 square feet. The plant will be used as a staging area for the kinds of jobs it used to house, but the industrial activity at the site actually will be less than it once was. The company will use the space for storage and the testing of equipment such as dry-type circuit breakers and motors before that equipment is moved and reassembled in the field.
Clients could include paper mills, universities, hospitals and energy plants. Boudreau estimates he’ll create six or seven new jobs within a year. That’s a fraction of the 50 people who used to work there, but Boudreau said it’s possible that the facility and its payroll will grow.
Because GE does not seek to change the building’s footprint or its use, no approvals are required from the town. The purpose of Boudreau’s visit to the planning board Monday was to provide information.
Boudreau said he has been working toward Monday’s announcement for two years, but expects things to move quickly now, with contractors beginning refurbishment within weeks. That’s good, he said, because customers already are trying to line up contracts.
“Frankly, the word’s already out that I’m there,” said Boudreau.
GE Energy Services is separate from GE Security, which has extensive Pittsfield facilities, but Boudreau said four members of his division have been working here for several years.
Planning board members and town officials greeted the news warmly.
“That’s been vacant for many years,” said Town Manager Kathryn Ruth. “We’re very pleased to see it being used again. General Electric has always been a wonderful company to have in the community.”
In other business, the board delayed action on a site plan proposed by Central Maine Golf Carts Inc. to build a golf cart sales showroom and repair shop on Waverly Street. With two members absent and a third unable to vote on this project because of a conflict of interest, the board lacked a quorum and scheduled debate and a public hearing on the issue for its Sept. 28 meeting.