The white, seven-story building in downtown Bangor that houses the Bangor Daily News has a new owner.
Hampden-based developer David St. Germain said his company, Sky Villa LLC, paid $1.85 million for the building in a deal that was completed Thursday. St. Germain said he plans to invest up to $2.2 million in the structure.
A second anchor tenant will take over the top two floors early next year: the engineering consulting firm CES, Inc., which outgrew its current headquarters in Brewer after adding 19 new employees since January 2017, St. Germain said.
The building’s previous owner was Portland-based Merchants Plaza LLC.
St. Germain now plans to make a number of renovations to the building, including preparing the sixth and seventh floors to be leased by CES beginning in the first quarter of 2020, installing more energy efficient lighting and upgrading its heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
He also said he would seek grant funding from the city to improve the outside of the building.
Those changes, and the fact that St. Germain is based locally, should make the building more appealing to commercial tenants, according to Bev Uhlenhake, a broker at Epstein Commercial Real Estate who helped arrange the purchase and lease of the building.
That’s particularly important now, as the gradual growth of local companies has left few vacancies downtown.
“I think it’s fantastic for downtown,” Uhlenhake said. “One problem is that we don’t have enough vacancies. With the local ownership and upgrades, deals will be easier to complete. I have tenants looking at the space. I expect it to fill up quickly.”
Besides the Bangor Daily News, which takes up the ground level and first floor of 1 Merchants Plaza, the building’s current tenants also include UBS Financial Services on the second floor; Bay State Financial and Verso Corp. on the fourth floor; engineering consulting firm Woodard and Curran on the fifth floor; and the law firm Richardson, Whitman, Large and Badger on the sixth floor.
The law firm will move elsewhere in the building to make room for CES, according to Uhlenhake, who said there is still considerable vacancy on the fourth floor and some space on the third floor.
Early next year, CES will move out of its headquarters at 465 South Main Street in Brewer, which has about 14,000 square feet, into the renovated sixth and seventh floors, which will give it about 18,000 square feet, according to CEO Denis St. Peter.
The company has more than 100 employees spread across offices in Maine and one satellite location in Florida, 58 of whom now work in its Brewer headquarters. The company has been acquiring smaller firms, diversifying the types of services that it offers and anticipates hiring more workers in the future.
“We just maxed out,” St. Peter said of the Brewer office. He added that the move will allow the company to create a more modern working space for its employees.
One Merchants Plaza opened in late 1973, the first major office building to be built in Bangor’s downtown since 1929, according to BDN archives. Its first occupant was Merchants National Bank of Bangor.
Tanya Emery, Bangor’s director of community and economic development, also celebrated the deal. She praised CES’s accomplishments as a company and pointed to St. Germain’s record of “incredible work redeveloping several high profile Bangor buildings.”
That includes the ongoing redevelopment of the former Verizon Wireless building at 6 Telcom Drive into the new pediatric center for Penobscot Community Health Care and a residential project on Center Street.
“His acquisition of 1 Merchants Plaza gives us a strong local partner to work with on retenanting some of the spaces and making improvements to the site,” Emery said. “The building is a critical piece of the downtown, as it is located next to both Pickering Square and West Market Square.”