OLD TOWN — City officials approached resident and music promoter Alex Gray about an empty building in the center of town, and he recently purchased it and the one next door.
The building at 283 Main St. has been vacant for years. Gray said his plans include food and entertainment.
“First floor will be restaurant lounge space. Second floor will be some sort of night entertainment, whether it’s a nightclub some nights of the week, some singer songwriter music type of stuff,” Gray said while giving a tour on Wednesday.
“Up here we’re on the roof deck of this space,” he added later. “This will couple as both restaurant space and night life space depending on the time of the year.”
Gray got into the music scene years ago when he ran Orono’s only nightclub — Ushuaia, which closed in 2005. While running the nightclub he began working with Live Nation, which led to the creation of Waterfront Concerts in Bangor.
“Here is what I call the recreation of Ushuaia in a sense,” he said of the second floor.
In his youth, the building was a sporting goods store. Later, it became a bar called 10 North Main, sometimes called “The Dime,” and then anther bar called Kingman’s.
Gray, who has partnered with Jeff Wheelden on the Old Town project, also purchased the yellow building next door.
“Next door is a working concept now,” Gray said. “Maybe a music venue, maybe again, some sort of night life. I can’t image that it’s a great time to go to the University of Maine for students, from a standpoint of having fun.”
The city acquired 283 Main St. a few years ago. Gray bought it at auction for less than $30,000.
“It’s nice to see something that was taken for back taxes that’s now going to be a productive and on the tax rolls,” said David Russel, Old Town city planner.
“It’s a unique building and of course I grew up in Old Town so there is something satisfying about working on a building that you’ve seen your entire life,” Gray said. “Something rewarding about being able to develop in your own town.”
Gray said he’s not sure when the new restaurant-lounge-entertainment center will open.