MACHIAS — The town’s new business communications center, being built in the Machias industrial park, is the latest in a series of projects that mark a $7 million boom in construction during the last year.
The $7 million figure doesn’t include the $6.7 million surgical wing under construction at Down East Community Hospital or a $500,000 funeral home complex planned for Outer Court Street.
The hospital broke ground for the new surgical wing earlier last year. When completed this spring, the addition will contain three operating rooms, an ambulatory surgical unit and a 12-bay recovery room.
Plans for the new funeral home complex are awaiting the takeover of the Gardner-Hall Funeral Home by Texas-based Security Corp. International. The Cooper Street funeral home is owned by Equity Corp. International, another Texas-based funeral services company. The new complex is planned for Outer Dublin Street next to the Families United building.
Northern Maine Construction began work on the town’s new business center last month. Conceived as office space for businesses that rely on telecommunications, the 7,000-square-foot building will house North Coast Internet Services, Washington County’s only Internet service provider.
Machias selectmen are hoping to attract a calling center, such as MBNA in Belfast, as the second-floor tenant.
The town received a $400,000 grant from the Maine Office of Community Development to construct the center. The grant requires the town to use the center to create 51 new jobs, the majority of which are to go to low- or moderate-income people.
The largest new construction project is the first phase of a Center for Lifelong Learning at the University of Maine at Machias. The university expects the first phase of the project to be completed by the fall of 1999. The construction contract for phase one, which includes an Olympic-size swimming pool, expanded bookstore and locker rooms, is $1,855,000.
Another large project is the new headquarters for the Machias office of the Maine Department of Human Services. The $600,000 construction project on Prescott Drive was completed last month.
The Rite Aid pharmacy completed a $250,000 addition to its Route 1 store this summer.
Also finished during 1998 was a 24-unit $735,000 housing complex for moderate- to low-income residents on outer Broadway by the Machias Housing Association. Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. built a $230,000 office building on Route 192 and Richard Fickett constructed a $199,000 insurance and real estate office on Dublin Street.
Machias Home Health Care built a $100,000 medical supply retail store on Route 1, and Down East Community Hospital completed a $90,000 pediatrician’s office on hospital grounds.
Earlier this year, Hannaford Bros. remodeled the old Rite Aid store as part of an $800,000 expansion to the Machias Shop ‘n Save. Clark Footer of Calais opened a $196,000 Sears retail outlet on Prescott Drive, and Marshall Health Care constructed a $190,000 Alzheimer’s care unit.
Other smaller commercial projects, in addition to private homes, garages, additions and remodeling projects, make up the remainder of the $3,952,800 in projects the Machias Planning Board approved in 1998, and the $3,143,687 in projects the board approved in 1997.