May 24, 2019

Waterworks proposal going back before council

BANGOR — A proposal to build a restaurant in the historic Waterworks again will come before the City Council Monday night.

After a two-week hiatus, the council again will consider designating Anastos & Lohnes Inc. as the sole developer of the property located on the banks of the Penobscot River.

If that designation ultimately is made, the city will negotiate exclusively with Anastos & Lohnes until Dec. 31 to attempt to reach an agreement on development of the Waterworks.

The Yarmouth developers have proposed to locate a Muddy Rudder restaurant in the historic riverside structure.

As part of a public-private partnership, the city would provide $600,000 in tax increment financing which would be paid back by the developer through future taxes and $250,000 in financing to be paid back in the form of 1 percent of the project’s gross revenue over a period of 15 to 20 years. The city also would undertake $300,000 in improvements to the area in order to get the project off the ground.

The developers would contribute $1.45 million to the completion of the project. That is comparable to what other developers have had to invest to construct restaurants of similar size in Bangor, said Ken Gibb, the city’s director of community and economic development.

He said the city offered incentives to “level the playing field” to make it financially attractive for a developer to use the Waterworks complex rather than building from scratch which, overall, likely would cost less than using the abandoned water-pumping facility, Gibb said.

Local restaurateurs complained at the Sept. 12 council meeting that the use of city funds gave the out-of-town developers an unfair competitive advantage.

Marshall Stern, an attorney for the Bangor Restaurant Committee, said it was improper to use government funds to prop up a private enterprise.

After hearing the restaurateurs’ concerns, the council voted to table the decision for two weeks.

During that time, Gibb said, the city has talked with some restaurant owners but has received no further proposals to develop the Waterworks.

Peter Anastos said he is still optimistic that his firm’s proposal will go forward.

He is concerned, however, that the sealed bid submitted by Anastos & Lohnes may be opened and shown to other area restaurateurs.

“I hope the integrity of the process is upheld,” he said, stressing that the bids should remain sealed.

Before the regularly scheduled council meeting, there will be a workshop session at which the public and both parties will be able to discuss the issue at more length. The workshop will begin at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

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