Some of Bangor’s largest commercial properties have lost millions of dollars in taxable property value following a year in which the retail and hospitality industries were hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city’s most valuable commercial property, Hollywood Casino, has dropped in value by $6 million from a year ago. Bangor now pegs the casino’s value at $69 million, according to the city’s recently finalized tax assessment records for the fiscal year that started July 1.
Another of the city’s large commercial properties, the Bangor Mall, saw its property value decline by about $5 million in the past year, to $15.5 million from $20.5 million, marking the latest year in which the long-struggling mall has seen its property value decline.
Those drops in assessed value will translate into lower tax bills for some of the city’s largest property taxpayers. The owners of the Bangor Mall will pay about $345,000 in property taxes, a drop of more than $125,000 since last year. Hollywood Casino will pay about $1.5 million, or $200,000 less than it did last year.
Several of Bangor’s largest retailers, especially those in the Stillwater Avenue area, saw noteworthy declines in their property values as well. Walmart on Stillwater declined by about $925,000 to $16.1 million, the value of Lowe’s on Springer Drive fell by $400,000 to $11.5 million, Target on Longview Drive saw its property value decline by $275,000 to $9.4 million, and the assessed value of Home Depot on Stillwater fell by $100,000 to $5.9 million.
The lower property values for the casino, mall and large retailers show how the pandemic’s effects on businesses in the Bangor area are catching up with municipal tax bills. The city’s retailers and hospitality businesses saw major declines in revenue last year as COVID-19 restrictions forced some to close temporarily and others to reduce their capacity, and the virus curtailed travel among tourists and business people. Altogether, those drops in business translated into a $30 million reduction in commercial property value across the city, Bangor Assessor Phil Drew said in June.
At the same time, a booming housing market resulted in residential properties adding $70 million in aggregate value, leading homeowners to assume a greater share of the city’s property tax burden.
But there are signs the pandemic’s economic downturn among Bangor retailers was only temporary. Sales tax collections in the Bangor area were higher in May 2021 than they were for the same, pre-pandemic period in 2019, according to Maine Revenue Services. However, lodging and restaurant sales still hadn’t recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
May — the month Gov. Janet Mills lifted businesses’ capacity limits and indoor mask requirements for vaccinated customers — is the latest month for which state sales tax data are available.
At Hollywood Casino, the facility still hasn’t returned to running the same number of slot machines and table games as it did before the pandemic, but revenues this spring eclipsed 2019 levels, according to data from Maine’s Gambling Control Unit.
Between April and July of this year, the casino recorded $1 million more in revenue than it did in the same period in 2019.
The city assessor’s office valued all of the property in Bangor at $2.55 billion for the new fiscal year, up from $2.48 billion a year ago. Property owners will owe a total of about $57 million based on the new tax rate of $22.30 per $1,000 of property value, which is a drop from last year’s tax rate of $23.20.