Infrastructure improvements, how to engage college students and an unprecedented increase in the tax valuation of the downtown district were some of the topics discussed Wednesday evening at the Downtown Bangor Partnership’s annual Town Hall Meeting.
According to Betsy Lundy, the city’s downtown coordinator, during the 2018-19 fiscal year, the total taxable value of all the property in the downtown district saw a 17.8 percent increase over the previous fiscal year, due in large part to the revitalization of a number of previously disused downtown Bangor buildings.
“There was more growth in our little section of town than in all the rest of the city,” said Lundy, who moderated the event, held at the Bangor Arts Exchange, which itself is in one of those recently revitalized buildings. “We have had a lot of properties that for many years were just dead space, but with some love and vision, we’re really reversing that.”
Lundy said that since the Bangor Center Corporation — the tax incentive financing district that stretches from the Bangor Waterfront to Harlow Street and up to the intersection of Hammond and High streets — was founded in the late 1980s, the tax value of that district has more than tripled.
Beyond tax numbers, Lundy also noted that 15 new businesses have opened in downtown Bangor in 2019 alone, while three — Specialty Sweets, Verve Burritos and Bahaar Pakistani — closed.
Lundy also revealed the results from an online survey conducted by the Downtown Bangor Partnership over the summer, which collected nearly 600 responses to questions about what people want to see in the downtown area. The overwhelming concern among the survey-takers was, Lundy said, infrastructure improvements — including improved sidewalks and crosswalks, better lighting on downtown streets, more trash receptacles and general concerns about parking.
“Obviously these are things that the city as a whole has to tackle, but we’ve already seen improvements just this year, with the renovations of Exchange and Columbia streets,” Lundy said, referring to the new sidewalks on both those downtown streets. “And the work on Pickering Square and Merchant’s Plaza is really going to blow people away, I think, when it’s complete.”
Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.
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