AUGUSTA — When storefront tenants are allowed to reopen businesses to the public at a Water Street building that had been closed because of safety concerns, Gagliano’s Italian Bistro won’t be one of them.

The restaurant was one of three retail businesses shuttered at the end of August, when city officials closed the building, citing safety concerns. The building owner at the time had failed to meet the city’s Aug. 25 deadline for demonstrating the building’s sprinkler and electrical systems had been inspected and met the city code.

Meanwhile, the target date for reopening the building at 275-287 Water St. is Dec. 1.

On Tuesday, restaurant owner Helena Gagliano-McFarland confirmed Gagliano’s won’t reopen, but if another restaurant is interested, she said, it could lease the space as a turn-key operation.

“All of the licenses are still current,” Gagliano-McFarland said, and the fixtures, which she and her family installed, still remain.

Richard Parkhurst, who bought the building earlier this month, said he’s interested in seeing another restaurant in that space.

“The other two tenants have asked for leases, and I will be offering leases to them,” he said.

One of the businesses is Patricia Buck Bridal, where owner Patricia Buck said she will open her bridal shop as soon as the city allows it, but it will be in a smaller space. She has been leasing space on two floors, but she’s letting that go.

“When I open up again, I will have a gigantic sale,” Buck said. She has been shifting furniture to other locations and has been trying to accommodate customers who had dresses on order with her that were scheduled to be delivered while the store has been shut down.

The third business, Forbidden Fruit, didn’t return a call for comment immediately Tuesday.

Parkhurst said he plans to invite city code enforcement officials to inspect the building at the end of November. To meet code requirements, he’s been focusing on the plumbing and electrical work that needs to be done. Replacing the roof starts next week, he said.

Parkhurst plans to renovate the upper floors into residential spaces, taking advantage of the building’s views of the Kennebec River to the east.

This is only the latest building to undergo rehabilitation. Parkhurst and his son, Tobias Parkhurst, have renovated other downtown buildings they own, and the Guerrette family has been renovating other downtown buildings following the same model.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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