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October 19, 2015

Gorham Savings Bank buys rest of Grand Trunk building in Portland

Photo / Paul Koenig Grand Trunk Office Building at 1 India St. in Portland

Gorham Savings Bank’s recent purchase of the top two floor of Portland's historic Grand Trunk Office Building at the corner of India and Thames streets sets the bank up to redevelop the century-old property.

That area near Portland’s eastern waterfront has seen significant interest from developers, including the contested plan to redevelop of the Portland Co. complex and, most recently, a proposal to build a six-story hotel with condos on the Grand Trunk Office Building’s neighboring lot, making the location attractive to the bank as a new Portland location.

Gorham Savings Bank already owned the first floor of the three-story Grand Trunk building, but the $1 million purchase of the top two floors will allow the bank to open some type of banking and office space there, Christopher Emmons, president and CEO of Gorham Savings Bank, told Mainebiz in a recent interview. The deal, brokered by Malone Commercial Brokers, closed Sept. 11. The bank bought the top two floors from Boston-based Intercontinental Real Estate Corp.

Emmons said the bank hasn’t decided what will be located in the building, but constructed is expected to begin next spring. The bank intends to fully occupy the space by the end of next year, the bank said in a release about the sale.

With the building's small footprint, Emmons doesn't anticipate it serving as a traditional consumer branch, but there could be some type of consumer banking services on the first floor. He said the top two floors will serve as offices.

Although the bank doesn’t have any plans to close its other leased locations in Portland — 172 Commercial St., one of its busiest branches; 63 and 71 Marginal Way, a consumer branch and the home of its commercial banking and lending team; and a recently opened express office with an interactive teller machine on Munjoy Hill — the India Street location would have an advantage because the bank owns the property, Emmons said.

“As our business has grown and our customer base in Cumberland County has grown, having a strong presence for both our retail customers and also our commercial customers is so important,” he said.

The bank is working with Developers Collaborative in Portland to figure out what exterior and interior work needs to done and to ensure the building is properly preserved, Emmons said.

The 1903 building, which originally served as offices for railroad and steamship operators, is the only remaining building of the once-extensive Grand Trunk Railroad complex in Portland, according to Greater Portland Landmarks. In 2012, Greater Portland Landmarks listed the building on its annual “Places in Peril” list.

“That area is just so attractive in so many different ways that it will be a lot of fun to see how that all progresses,” Emmons said. “Obviously, our intention is to really preserve the history of the building and to preserve the historic nature of it.”

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