Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Baxter Library

The Baxter Library, the ornate building in the middle here, was a gift to the city from Mayor James Phinney Baxter way back when. It certainly is a beautiful structure. It has most recently been part of the Maine College of Art campus. According to news sources:

Now, the college is selling the property to Robert C.S. Monks and Rex Bell of Cape Elizabeth. They want to lease it to the VIA Group, a national marketing company now headquartered on Danforth Street.

Bell said the developers had a hard time finding tenants until the VIA Group showed interest. But VIA wants $2.5 million in renovations to bring the building up to modern standards.

That's an expensive endeavor in a historic building, Bell said, and the developers can't get financing without the tax break.

I would love to see the building stay open to the public, but it's great that they plan on doing some renovations and it is a local company that is planning on moving in. The thing about good architecture is that it can host many uses and be functional, whereas a strip-mall is usually only good for pharmacies and video stores.

Also in the article:

Mitchell said the project would make the building an "anchor" and attract more high-quality development to a part of Congress Street that has seen little investment.

The Baxter project would be the first major project in the city's new creative economy tax district along Congress Street. The program allows a portion of the value of new investment to be used to promote arts and cultural events, and to support innovative business initiatives.