St. John Valley credit union expanding to Presque Isle

4 weeks ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A credit union serving Aroostook County and Bangor will expand after purchasing a former Presque Isle restaurant site.

Acadia Federal Credit Union, headquartered in Fort Kent, has bought the former Bonanza Restaurant and will tear down the 50-year-old building to construct its ninth branch office.

The expansion is good news for Presque Isle, where downtown progress and recent new businesses like F.W. Webb and the Maple Pig Bar & Grill have enlarged the economic picture. With most of its branches north of Caribou, the credit union wanted to expand to the city because of its growth potential, officials said.

“Really, we felt that Presque Isle is a population hub of Aroostook County,” said Dave Desjardins, Acadia president and CEO. “So that was the next logical move because of the population and because of our existing members in the area.”

The credit union operates branches in Fort Kent, Madawaska, St. Agatha, St. Francis, Ashland and three sites in Bangor.  

The purchase agreement was finalized Wednesday, Desjardins said. The credit union bought the building from a corporation owned by the Hedrich family, which operated Bonanza, for $575,000.

Desjardins said Acadia hopes to be open roughly a year from now, but the timeline is uncertain because new construction is involved.

The credit union originally intended to renovate the building, but engineers and architects determined the existing roof can’t support the weight of necessary structural additions like a drive-thru section with a heavy canopy, he said.

“Once the engineering studies were done, we could modify the building to our needs but in the long run it would cost more to do that than to start from scratch,” Desjardins said.

Unfortunately it looks like the building, which was constructed in 1974, will have to come down, he said.  

That’s bittersweet, not just for the Presque Isle area but for many Valley residents who have fond memories of Bonanza, said Desjardins and Alison Smart, Acadia marketing manager.

“It’s sad, because we’re certainly cognizant of people’s feelings about that historical piece,” Smart said.

The expansion fits in with the strategic growth plan of the financial institution, which has 16,500 members and assets of $340 million, he said. 

To get a sense of the central Aroostook market, Acadia has rented space at the Northeastland Hotel’s Innovation Center in Presque Isle for promotional lenders to meet with members.

Crews will start work immediately on building design. Though staffing needs haven’t been determined, Desjardins foresees hiring at least four employees in Presque Isle.