AUGUSTA — An occasionally controversial downtown shop specializing in racy undergarments, shoes, dresses and other risqué clothing is there no more.

The ArchEnemys retail store drew interest from gawkers and protesters several years ago when it featured scantily clad live models in its storefront windows shortly after it opened. It moved out of its former 182 Water St. home Nov. 1.

Owners Nate and Carrie LaChance are opening Archenemy Studios in the Old Port section of Portland, according to their Facebook page and their former Augusta landlord.

“They have a photography studio in Portland,” said the landlord, Jesse Patkus, who has owned 182 Water St. with his wife, Rebecca, for a little over a year. “I can’t say enough good stuff about Nate and Carrie. They were great tenants. They really took pride in their store.”

Patkus said he had no problem with ArchEnemy’s product line of risqué wear, nor did he hear others complain about it.

Nate LaChance, contacted online, declined to comment for this story.

The old ArchEnemys space didn’t remain vacant for even a single day. The Hair Gallery already has started renovating it and will move there from its current location on Memorial Circle, with a plan to open in its new spot Dec. 4, according to owner Missy Tobias.

“The downtown is up and coming. We’re pretty excited to be part of what they’re offering,” Tobias said of the move to downtown for the business, which has been in Augusta for about 10 years. “We’ve already met half the business owners down there. They’re helping us clean, feeding us, really welcoming us. It’ll be great.”

Tobias said she’d heard about ArchEnemys having live models in its windows a few years ago, but said she didn’t really take notice at the time.

In February 2006, the models, along with similarly scantily clad models posing across the street in the storefront window of the former Spellbound lingerie shop, drew a small group of protesters who called themselves Christians Lovingly Advocating Decency, or CLAD, to Water Street.

Larry Fleury, president of Augusta Downtown Alliance, said the Hair Gallery probably will draw more foot traffic to downtown than did ArchEnemys, which has multiple websites, many featuring the work of Nate, a photographer, and Carrie, one of his most frequent models.

“They’re going to be more active. Most of what ArchEnemys did was online, so it didn’t generate much foot traffic,” Fleury said. “That’s all part of the changing complexion of downtown. We’ll replace (ArchEnemys) with something that is probably more appropriate for downtown.”

Patkus said he had no trouble finding a new tenant for the Water Street space.

He said Tobias and her helpers have exposed the brick walls of the space and taken other steps to make the spot their own attractive place.

Fleury said the spot’s new look “brings a historic look, which is just what the Augusta Downtown Association wants.”

He said he thinks a number of other properties downtown are tempting for small businesses, but for some reason, the buildings’ owners aren’t actively seeking tenants. He hopes that will change.

“There are a number of properties ripe for development, and we’re hearing people would rent them, but a number of landlords are not choosing, for a myriad of reasons, to rent them out,” Fleury said. “They’re the perfect size. It’s that smaller unit people are looking for. It’s a concern, because downtown Augusta is changing rapidly right now, and we don’t have the availability of space on the street. We’d certainly encourage them to take another look at renting those units out.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
kedwards@centralmaine.com