AUGUSTA — A Starbucks coffee shop has been proposed to be built off Western Avenue in the Journal Square development that includes Bangor Savings Bank and Goodwill.

The proposed coffee shop would have a drive-thru and be in a building between the Bangor Savings Bank building and a cluster of retail stores that includes U.S. Cellular, Supercuts and Men’s Wearhouse.

The proposal goes to the Augusta Planning Board in a public hearing set for 7 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

Board members are also scheduled to consider a proposal to build a parking lot off Court Street for the new courthouse.

Joshua Benthien, an owner of Northland, which would develop the Starbucks, and Sweetwater Partners, the entity that would own it, said even though there is a Starbucks inside the nearby Target store, the company believes there is demand in Augusta for the coffee shop.

“My guess is they’d both stay in business,” Benthien said. “We feel the demand is there. We’ve been talking to Starbucks for at least three years now. So they’ve wanted to be there for a long time. I think it’s going to be a very hot Starbucks. I think we’ll do well.”


Matt Nazar, development director for the city, said demand for a service or product is not part of the Planning Board’s review criteria. Making sure there is such demand, he noted, is up to developers.

Benthien, whose company also oversaw development of the Bangor Savings, Goodwill, and other buildings at Journal Square on property that was the former home to the Kennebec Journal, said if the Starbucks is approved, construction could start in January and the shop could open in the summer of 2015.

The 8,500-square-foot building home to U.S. Cellular, Supercuts and Men’s Wearhouse has vacant retail space now, but Benthien said it would have been too costly to put a drive-thru in that building. Instead a 2,000-square-foot building would be built overlooking Western Avenue and accessed either from Senator Way or Crossing Way.

Benthien said ideally a restaurant will come in to take the remaining vacant space in the existing building.

“We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from folks that live and work in Augusta, including our tenants on the site, that they’d really like another restaurant, so we’re trying to hold out for the right fit there,” he said. “We’ve had a number of interested parties inquire about that space, but they didn’t feel like the right mix.”

The addition of the Starbucks to the offerings at Journal Square, which is across the street from the Senator Inn and Spa, would increase the peak hour traffic count there above what was approved by the state Department of Transportation in a traffic movement permit for the previous development there. Benthien said the company has requested state approval of a permit reflecting the potentially higher peak traffic count, but had not yet heard back.


In the board’s other business, the proposed new courthouse parking lot would serve the consolidated county courthouse being built by the Maine Governmental Facilities Authority which will connect to the existing Kennebec County Superior Court building on State Street.

The 92-spot parking lot would be built on three acres at the corner of Court and Perham streets, where there are four homes, 13, 15 and 19 Perham St., and 32 Court St. All four homes were deemed, by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, to be historically significant enough to be subject to city ordinance requiring a delay of 90 days before potentially historic buildings can be demolished. However, the Planning Board makes the final determination whether a building is historically significant enough to require a delay in demolition when an application is before the Planning Board.

The three Perham Street properties were deemed historic before the application for the courthouse parking lot went to the Planning Board, but the Court Street property was not.

The three Perham Street properties have already gone through the 90-day delay period and may be demolished, according to Nazar. However, the Court Street property was not reviewed when the Perham Street properties were back in July. Instead, the commission reviewed the 32 Court St. property more recently and found it to be historically significant, Nazar said. As part of the Planning Board’s review of the proposed courthouse project, Nazar said board members will need to decide whether the building is a historically significant building and subject to the city’s 90 day demolition delay.

Board members are also scheduled on Tuesday to review the city’s sign regulations regarding window signs.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

Twitter: @kedwardskj

Comments are no longer available on this story