Visitors center still up for grabs

6 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — As the year comes to a close, town officials continue to work with a Portland based real estate firm to try and sell the Visitors Information Center, Town Manager Bill MacDonald said Dec. 26. 

“The building is still up for sale and we are still optimistic about selling it,” MacDonald said of the building, which sits on a parcel of land at 28 Ludlow Road.

MacDonald, who just took over as manager of the community late last month, said he recently discussed the issue with officials from the Maine Office of Tourism and the Southern Aroostook Development Corp. in Houlton.

The town hired SVN/The Urbanek Group to market the property. Erik Urbanek, managing director of the firm, is a Houlton native based in Portland. His firm is affiliated with SVN, a national commercial real estate network that focuses on assets in the $2 million to $20 million range. The company has more than 200 offices around the country.

Six years ago, Houlton took ownership of the center after Maine Department of Transportation officials announced they were considering closing it in order to save money. Costs to maintain the center proved to be higher than officials expected, however, and the town decided to market it.

The town has received some financial assistance in maintaining the property from the Maine Office of Tourism, Aroostook County and the Maine Department of Transportation.

The Houlton parcel, eight acres and a 2,000-square-foot log building, is listed at $500,000, Currently the town owns the property by virtue of a “Governor’s Deed” from the state. Therefore, it is not on the town’s tax rolls. Once the property sells, town leaders want the purchaser to continue to maintain a 900-square-foot tourist information center located inside the building, either using the existing facility or integrating it into a new development.

MacDonald said financial arrangements for the property will remain the same as last year, pending Town Council approval.

“We have continued the same funding that we have in the past for the facility and its upkeep,” said MacDonald. “We plan a public hearing on the budget in January, and we have proposed a $20,000 allocation for the town, with $10,000 in support coming from the MDOT and between $2,500 and $3,000 coming from Aroostook County. That gives us a total of $43,000, which is the same amount that we proposed last year.”

Urbanek could not be reached for comment.

For more information on the project, contact Urbanek at 207-613-7400 or