The city has condemned a large building on the edge of downtown after squatters were found living in it, officials said.
The owner of the prominent building at 72 State St. said he is close to finding a new tenant, but city officials say the property has been vacant since at least 2013 and needs repairs before anyone would be allowed to move in.
“It’s been frustrating watching the building deteriorate,” Tanya Emery, the city’s community and economic development director, said. “If the owner has a tenant, and we certainly hope that is the case, there would need to be significant repairs and upgrades to it before they could move in.”
It’s the latest building in downtown Bangor to be condemned by the city. Last month, code enforcement condemned the former YMCA site on Hammond Street, which was then sold to Penobscot County a day later. The city’s code enforcement division has identified 141 buildings in Bangor that were considered unfit for human habitation, as of May 2.
The owner, James Butler of Hampden, purchased the more than 60-year-old commercial building in 2006, according to city assessor records. The building was designed by well-known architect Eaton Tarbell Sr. and is located on a 0.4-acre piece of land between French Street and Broadway, which includes a small building occupied by the eatery Thai 2 Go. It is valued at $267,100, according to the city assessor’s website.
The property’s former owner, Shaun Dowd, said his dentist practice was located on the first floor of the building for 40 years before he retired in 2008. A variety of other businesses, including an insurance company, a barber shop and a dental laboratory, had also set up shop in the building, he said.
But earlier this month city officials marked the building with a placard, deeming it unfit for human habitation after squatters were spotted inside, the city’s code enforcement officer Jeremy Martin said.
The city started cracking down on abandoned homes in 2013 by passing a law forcing property owners who leave a building empty for more than 60 days to register with the city. It also started hounding property owners and banks to secure doors and windows.
Martin said the State Street building has been vacant since at least 2013, but it has never been registered as such with the city as required, and Butler has ignored numerous requests by city officials to maintain his property.
Butler disputes Martin’s vacancy estimate, saying it has only been unoccupied for 1½ to 2 years. Butler said he plans to fix up the building’s broken windows and will turn on the heat, water, sprinklers and electricity, which were drained or turned off over the winter to avoid bursting pipes.
Butler last week declined to disclose which business was interested in occupying the first floor of the building. He also declined to say what the status of the tenant agreement was, if a lease had been signed or when a business was expected to move in.
“I’m excited about the opportunity I have here,” Butler said. “I did have a few incidents [with squatters] because it was unoccupied. But that’s common throughout the city.”