July 18, 2018

Downtown Ellsworth's former Masonic Lodge hits the market

Courtesy / Sargent Real Estate
Courtesy / Sargent Real Estate
192 Main St. in downtown Ellsworth, a former Masonic Lodge, is on the market for $1.1 million

A Federal-style building built in 1934 and located in the heart of Ellsworth's downtown at 192 Main St. is on the market at $1.1 million.

Locally known as the "Maine Grind" building because a popular coffeehouse by that name was once located on the first floor, the 11,508-square-foot building currently houses tenants that include Flexit Cafe & Bakery and artisan galleries on the main floor; kitchen, workout/dance studio and office space on the lower level; and numerous office and meeting spaces on the second floor.

The building originally served as a Masonic Lodge.

Listing broker Dan Sargent of Sargent Real Estate said the potential buyer pool could include investors looking to be in Ellsworth's burgeoning downtown scene.

"I think it's become such a hub for the area," he said of Ellsworth. "You get a lot of people who are relocating here. And unlike some other areas, Ellsworth has become a year-round community. We have that community feel, that downtown feel, which is nice."

The sellers are business partners Leslie Harlow and Peter Rogers. In addition to co-owning 192 Main St., Harlow opened Ironbound Restaurant in Hancock four years ago. She also owns Sullivan Harbor Farms Smokehouse, also in Hancock, which she's getting re-licensed through the Food and Drug Administration in order to be ready to go back into the smoked salmon business after a two-year hiatus.

Rogers lives in Rockland and develops airplane hangars at the Martha's Vineyard Airport, Harlow told Mainebiz.

The partners bought the building in 2005 from the Freemasons of Ellsworth.

"The building was not for sale," Harlow said. "We were both looking for a project. Someone in Ellsworth told us about the possibility that the Masons might want to sell that building. So we went to them about buying it. They said no. A couple of months later, they called us and said, 'Come in and talk with us.' Within two months, we bought it."

The sale came with a leaseback for the Masons, who stayed in building almost two years more while they built a new facility, said Harlow.

Structurally, the building was in great shape.

Extensively renovated

Courtesy / Sargent Real Estate
Courtesy / Sargent Real Estate
The original staircase, doors and windows were among the architectural features retained in the 2005 renovations.

"But it needed some TLC," said Harlow, explaining that renovations include new wiring, plumbing, windows and a roof. A new heating and air conditioning system also were installed for the second floor and part of the first floor. Outdoor enhancements out front included building a patio and putting in a handicap-accessible ramp. The second floor had a 300-seat auditorium that the partners made that available for rent for four or five years, then converted the space for office use.

"We found there was more of a need for office space than for an auditorium," she said.

The building consists of three floors and a full-floor attic that has development potential, she said. According to Sargent's marketing material, the attic space has been rough plumbed and updated and would work for residential living spaces.

When doing the updates, said Harlow, "We kept the integrity of the building by not altering the architectural features. It's a traditional 1930s-style Mission interior with dark-stained molding, nice interior doors, a beautiful stairway and big oversize windows, which we kept."

The partners also opened Maine Grind on the first floor, which Harlow ran for seven years. That space is now occupied by Flexit.

An incubator for small businesses

Courtesy / Sargent Real Estate
Courtesy / Sargent Real Estate
The second floor features big windows and a comfortable meeting space, along with offices.

"The idea was that there was not a coffee shop concept in Ellsworth at the time," she said.

The partners are selling the building because they're busy with other projects, she said.

"We feel like we've made a good contribution to the city of Ellsworth," she said. "We're ready to turn the reins over to somebody else."

Harlow said she's seen the downtown evolve during her time with the property.

"It now has more of a hipster vibe to it," she said. "There are a lot of new, younger businesses that have moved into town."

Harlow said she's pleased that her building has essentially acted as an incubator for some small businesses.

"We had several tenants who stayed in our building and have now opened in other places downtown," she said. "What's been nice for us is to mentor some of these younger businesspeople and also to be part of their growth. We're hoping that someone is looking for a property like that who is willing to be partners with the business community. There's a huge amount of economic activity in that building."


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