Old Town seeking tenants for pop up business village

Published: May. 17, 2022 at 2:44 PM EDT
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OLD TOWN, Maine (WABI) - Officials in Old Town are working to change the way some people perceive the city.

Attracting new businesses in the process.

“Sometimes people identify Old Town as a mill town. We are a town that happens to have a mill and we’re looking to diversify our business base. We’re glad to have the mill in town but we’re branching out a little bit. We want Old Town to be a place where people come and visit, stay, play work, go to school. It’s a great place and we’re doing a lot to drive that attention,” said E.J. Roach, director of economic and community development.

Roach is overseeing a unique opportunity.

“We’re here at the former Old Town Canoe site and our pop up shop village we’re trying to recruit businesses and artisans to come in, enter into the downtown market to take advantage of a vacant industrial space,” said Roach.

While the city makes moves to find a more permanent solution for the site, they built these three structures last year.

“2021 to attract businesses to our downtown. It’s a seasonal temporary shops that allow for businesses to locate in town and if we decide to develop this lot into more permanent structures, we’re able to move these to other parts of town. Keep those businesses in business and allow the small mom and pop shop to get into the Main Street Market. Bring foot traffic to downtown and it’s a stepping stone to perhaps a permanent brick and mortar facility here and to here in town,” said Roach. “This year we’re actually going to waive the rent. Last year we charged $50 per month for each of the businesses plus we shared the electricity among the tenants, this year if you’re a first first year tenant, we’re going to waive that $50 fee. So you can put that money back towards marketing, inventory hiring staff.”

They are accepting applications now and expect to make a decision next week.

“We want to attract people from away to come and see what Old Town has to offer. We spent a lot of time redeveloping our downtown over the last five to six years and we really want to bring people to town to visit to eat shop. Spend some time enjoy the park directly across the street from here or right near the splash pad right near the Penobscot River. A lot of good things going on going on in Old Town we want people to come and see it,” said Roach.

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