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A storied Presque Isle hotel, almost a century old, is being sold — and the prospective owner hopes to bring it, and the city, new life.
A community development organization, Ignite PI, has signed an agreement to buy the Northeastland Hotel, the nonprofit said in a news release this week. The group plans to then renovate the 50-room inn, at 436 Main St. in downtown Presque Isle, and add a 2,500-square-foot co-working space to the existing business center. Operations would continue with current staff.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Ignite PI has received a $1.5 million grant from a local philanthropy, the Rodney and Mary Barton Smith Family Foundation, as well as other support to help pay for the purchase. Now the group is looking for additional funding to complete it, Ignite PI’s director of community innovation, Clint Deschene, told Mainebiz Thursday.
The immediate goal is to raise another $275,000 in order to meet a challenge donation, although he wouldn’t say how much money is needed in total. If Ignite PI comes up with the balance, the deal could happen quickly, with inspections and due diligence completed by the end of April, Deschene said.
The Northeastland would serve as a business incubator, with shared office space for up to a dozen local startups, who will "eventually graduate and find new spaces of their own" in the Presque Isle area, Deschene predicts. The hotel would also provide the first headquarters for Ignite PI, which launched in December with a $300,000 gift from the foundation.
“Ignite PI is beyond thrilled to not only find a location for our services, but to also do it in a way that it will be our initial project to demonstrate how the community can come together to revitalize downtown,” Deschene said.
The hotel would also continue serving as just that, albeit with some updates.
“There would be some minor structural changes, some reoutfitting of the furniture,” he said. “It’s a good building, but it’s time for a refresh.”
The Northeastland opened in 1932, on the site of a former hotel that had burned down. The current establishment, which includes a restaurant and bar, has served as a popular hub for the Presque Isle community, hosting generations of travelers as well as local weddings, business meetings and civic events.
In 1950, the Northeastland added an elevator, one of the first in Presque Isle, according to the hotel. In 1988, the property was purchased by the local Hedrich family, who manage it through the Presque Isle Hotel Co.
In the news release, the family issued a statement, saying, “The Northeastland has been a pillar of the Hedrich family for decades. We are confident that this opportunity will not only continue the legacy of our family but will be the anchor of the downtown in a whole new way.
“This decision was not made quickly. We have been waiting for the right fit for the sale of the property. We are excited to see what the next chapter of the Northeastland will bring to our beloved community. We have faith that Ignite PI will carry on this legacy in the best way possible for our community.”
Deschene said, “Aroostook County has a strong work ethic. We never give up, we never just go away. The Northeastland is like that.”
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