BANGOR, Maine — Work to convert historic downtown buildings into new housing opportunities is underway in Bangor.
Four different properties, in the heart of the city, are being redeveloped into both affordable and higher-end housing units.
Dash Davidson is the owner of two of the newly purchased historic properties.
He is redeveloping a building at 2 Hammond Street called The Hammond, and another just two blocks away, at 33 State Street called Exchange Block, for a total of 23 high-end apartments.
The New York developer says investing in Bangor came almost by accident.
"We spend a lot of time in Maine, my parents have a house in Vinalhaven and we spend a lot of time here last summer cause my mom was sick here at the hospital here in Bangor, so that's what kind of what caused us to spend time here, which led me to finding this building, and so that's kind of how this all started," Davidson said.
The projects both involve the renovation of historic buildings with modern touches. Existing tenants will remain--including the Bangor Chamber of Commerce on Hammond Street and City Drawers on State Street.
"We are rehabbing, renovating the upper floors, kind of bringing it back to life, it's been vacant for a while and adding 8 apartments in a historically appropriate way," Davidson said, regarding his plans at The Hammond. "Every unit is a corner unit because of the way the building is situated with incredible views up and down the stream."
Davidson tells NEWS CENTER Maine he might even add a speakeasy to the street level of the project right in the basement area.
Renovations for the high-end apartments are already in the works and The Hammond is expected to be completed by spring of next year.
The project manager for both of Davidson's buildings, Zack Pike, says the ground-level commercial space at Exchange Block does not have a tenant yet.
"It's fantastic to work in the downtown area and have two projects in such close proximity, and also they are just really fun projects, I mean these buildings are exquisite...they have tons of character!" Pike said.
The State Street building was constructed after the great Bangor fire and it has been unoccupied for decades.
"It has a really historic feel to it, the old hardwood floors, the old mosaic tiles, the 24-foot high ceiling, it's just an amazing building and there's a lot of opportunity for the 15 apartment units," Pike said.
"It's really exciting to see the concentration of resources coming into the downtown so that we can see some of these historic buildings which are unique to Bangor...come back to life," Tanya Emery, Bangor's Director of Community & Economic Development said.
Another rehab project is underway at the former home of Saliba's Carpets on the waterfront.
City of Bangor's code enforcement director Jeff Wallace says interior demolition work is underway at the mixed-use building.
Wallace says the developer has 12 high-end luxury units in mind over three floors of the building, and the ground floor will most likely have a restaurant.
Wallace says the new developer plans on keeping the brick wall façade to keep the historic look and feel of the corner building.
NEWS CENTER Maine reached out to the developer of the mixed-use redevelopment project for comment and he declined to talk about the property plans.
The former Bangor High School on Harlow Street is also likely to get a makeover. A few decades ago it was converted into housing units. Now Community Housing of Maine is working on adding 16 new apartments, for a total of 66 affordable units.
Wallace says the total investment cost for the affordable housing units nears $5 million.
The upgrades will also include an elevator, electrical updates, LED lighting, updated fire protection including sprinklers in the attic spaces, new carpets, and a new coat of paint.
The auditorium is going to be converted into a few of the housing units proposed.
Wallace adds affordable housing is defined as leveling housing expenses that don't exceed 35% of a family's gross income.
Community Housing of Maine has more details about the affordable housing units, information for them can be found here.
"We love seeing a mix of housing, both in the mid-range, affordable, and the higher end price point because more supply means that supply and demand can get calibrated a little bit better," Emery said . "People understand that there's a really strong market here, and that there's a housing demand that has not yet been satisfied and that that's going to continue to spur investment."
In the past three years, the city of Bangor has approved 287 new housing units.
"We are really excited to see that a lot of the developers that are paying attention to the market and bringing housing units online, are doing it in walkable neighborhoods, that's really what the consumer is telling us that they are looking for. Many people who want to rent rather than own are looking for options that are in walkable neighborhoods where they don't necessarily have to have a car to go on every trip or to get to work or the library, it's something that they are looking for in the market and now we are seeing the market respond!" Emery said.
If you are interested in more information on the high-end apartments at The Hammond or Exchange Block, click here.