WATERVILLE — The former Friendly’s restaurant building at 373 Main St., vacant for more than a year, is close to getting a new tenant, according to an official from the real estate brokerage company marketing the site.

Charlie Craig, partner in The Dunham Group, of Portland, said Friday that he is in negotiations with two different potential users of the building and expects one will become a tenant.

While he could not name the businesses, he said one is a restaurant and the other, a national chain whose name people will recognize.

“We think we’ll have a letter of intent signed within a couple of weeks and then a lease would be signed,” Craig said. “We’re close. It’s good real estate, and I’ve gotten a lot of calls on it.”

Five Guys Burgers and Fries had been interested in the building, but the deal fell through because of a lease issue, according to Craig.

“We thought that was going to happen,” he said. “I know they want to be in Waterville. They’ve got to find the right location that will fit into their business model.”

Craig said he does not represent Five Guys, whose headquarters are in Lorton, Virginia. A call Thursday to the media relations office at Five Guys had not been returned by Friday afternoon.

The former Friendly’s building is 3,600 square feet and is on part of a larger parcel that includes buildings housing Little Caesars, Advance Auto Parts, Cigaret Shopper and Grease Lightning.

Friendly’s successor is a real estate company that owns the building, but not the land under it, which is owned by a landlord. Friendly’s closed at the site in December 2014 because of a lack of business, Craig said at the time.

Craig said that area of Main Street near Interstate 95 and Elm Plaza is healthy business-wise.

“There’s very low vacancy there so it’s known in the retail world as being the best location in Waterville,” he said.

Craig’s firm is marketing a 2,500-square-foot space next to Kmart in Elm Plaza that formerly was the restaurant part of that store. He also is seeking a tenant for a 9,200-square-foot space near Little Caesars that formerly housed Aaron’s, a rent-to-own business for furniture, electronics and appliances that moved to Shaw’s Plaza off Kennedy Memorial Drive.

Garvan Donegan, economic development specialist for the Central Maine Growth Council, said he is not surprised there is movement on the former Friendly’s space, as he and others are seeing a tremendous upswing in economic development activity from small business expansions to larger business growth.

“We’re seeing this on Planning Board agendas. I think we can glean a lot from the downtown activity,” Donegan said.

He said he attended a Maine Real Estate and Development Association conference in Portland Thursday, and central Maine, including Waterville, was prominently mentioned for Colby College’s plans to help revitalize downtown, Collaborative Consulting’s plans to bring 200 jobs to the city, Hathaway Creative Center’s plans to expand, a project to build an Interstate 95 interchange at Trafton Road and plans to develop the waterfront.

The Friendly’s space has been vacant since late in 2014, he said, and a new tenant there will bring jobs and help the tax rate.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

 


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