GARDINER — The City Council approved a waiver Wednesday of property taxes for a landlord who proposes to rent space to a tattoo studio that lost its previous space when a fire burned the downtown building in which it was located.

When Gardiner city officials inspected the landlord’s building at 218 Water St. at the end of August, they determined a building permit was required to make the building safe for a tenant in the upper floors.

Touch of Grey Tattoo Studio, pushed out of its Water Street space in July when fire destroyed the downtown building it occupied as well as three others, was returning to Gardiner.

The new space was offered by Aspire Corp., the studio’s original landlord. The only hitch in the plan was a Gardiner city requirement for property owners to be current on taxes before it will issue permits.

Aspire Corp. owes Gardiner taxes on two properties — $3,880.01 on 218 Water St., and $3,499.98 on 251 Water St. In a request to the Gardiner City Council, Aspire representative Paul McGuire wrote that the company moved Touch of Grey to 215 Water St., and initially waived rent to help owner Chris Flynn reopen. He acknowledged that Aspire had fallen behind in paying its taxes, because of uninsured fire/water damage at 247 and 249 Water St. and loss of rent income.

“We should be able to put things back in order as soon as we complete new assessments with our bank,” wrote McGuire, who did not attend the meeting.

A search of city records showed that Aspire has no other late payments and that the company had missed payments in the fall of 2014 and the spring of 2015 before the fire.

In addition to a building permit to make fire/safety modifications, the project also would require a sign permit and a certificate of appropriateness for the sign, as it’s in the historic district.

After some discussion at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Thom Harnett summed up the situation this way: “I think we want to do what we can to help Touch of Grey because of what happened. The taxes were due before the fire happened. If the council were to approve the waiver, I would want a representative of Aspire to come to our next meeting and tell us what their plan is. I don’t want to approve rental payments going to them without taxes going to us.”

The council agreed, and it approved the waiver.

Flynn, owner of the tattoo studio, said in the two months since the shop reopened, he’s been working 14-hour days to recoup his losses. He’s been short-handed since an artist left last month, but he hopes to get another in around Thanksgiving. “I am carrying this whole shop on my back. I have put all my money into it,” he said. A GoFundMe campaign to help the business raised about $3,500, but no new pledges have been made in about a month.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @jlowellkj


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