One of the largest developments along the Bangor waterfront in years is set to open next week, when hundreds of staff from Bangor Savings Bank start using a new, five-story office building and parking garage that have been constructed just off Main Street.
Around 320 people are due to start working in the new building Tuesday, company representatives said during a recent tour of the structure at 11 Hamlin Way — although outdoor work will continue on the building over the next few months.
Once the bank completes the operations center and nearby parking garage, it will have completed a multi-year project to leave three other buildings in Bangor and open the new waterfront campus.
As part of that project, the company also renovated a nearby building at 24 Hamlin Way — formerly 20 South St. — that now serves as its corporate headquarters. About 70 people work in that building overlooking the Penobscot River, which opened last summer.
With the move to the new, multimillion dollar campus, the company has sold all three of its existing Bangor buildings. It sold its building at 19 Maine Ave. to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services; its building at 203 Maine Ave. to OHI, an organization that supports people with disabilities; and its building at 99 Franklin St. to a housing developer.
“We’re thrilled,” said Bob Montgomery-Rice, president and CEO of Bangor Savings Bank. “We wanted to expand, but we didn’t want to leave a vacant building.”
The new, 117,000-square-foot office building will house a call center, payroll management, human resources, accounting, training and other departments, along with a state-of-the-art data center and amenities such as a cafe, gym and rooftop deck.
The parking garage will have about 450 spaces, and its roof will hold a solar array capable of generating 620 kilowatts of energy. The new complex will benefit from various other energy efficiency measures, including open offices that maximize the natural light coming through the windows, and a system of geothermal wells and heat pumps that will recycle hot and cold air as needed.
Bangor Savings Bank officials have said the new, almost five-acre campus will be worth around $35 million and eventually serve as the home base for about 500 workers.
The company originally purchased the waterfront parcel in January 2017, with the stated goal of alleviating a shortage of space at its other Bangor properties. Bangor Savings Bank has almost 60 branches across Maine and New Hampshire. Last spring, it completed a $45 million merger with Granite Bank in New Hampshire, bringing its assets to almost $4 billion.
Besides expanding the amount of taxable property it has in the city, Montgomery-Rice said that the company’s new campus has ensured that good jobs will remain in Bangor and that more foot traffic will come to the waterfront and downtown.
The city’s long-running efforts to redevelop that section of Bangor should get a boost from the new campus, according to Rod McKay, the city’s former director of community and economic development who retired in 2012.
Over the past 20 years, the city has spent millions to renovate the waterfront from contaminated, industrial land into a grassy public park where visitors can walk along paths and get close to the river. That area has also become the site of many musical productions, hosting the American Folk Festival and the Waterfront Concerts music series.
“It’s a great project,” McKay said. “It’s certainly something that, the size of which I hadn’t anticipated. It makes good use of the property down there. Three hundred or 400 people working down on the waterfront will help businesses in the area and adds to the assessed tax value of the property down there. It takes it from no use to a very productive use.”
The outdoor walking paths of the new Bangor Savings Bank campus will also be open to the public, which developers of the project said should help integrate it with the surrounding area, according to one of the project’s developers, David Latulippe, president of CJ Developers in Freeport.
“I give Bangor Savings Bank credit,” Latulippe said during the recent tour of the new building. “They didn’t need to do that. They could have fenced it off, but it will be an extension of the riverfront.”