AUGUSTA — Work is expected to begin shortly to renovate the remaining space in Journal Square on Western Avenue for a Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

Northland Enterprises, which has been developing the property since it bought the site in 2011, announced Monday it has reached a deal with a franchisee for the national burger chain. The restaurant is expected to be open by mid-fall.

Attempts to reach Five Guys franchise holder Eugene Prentice were not immediately successful. He operates the Five Guys restaurant in Portland.

Northland Enterprises turned down several businesses interested in the site close to Interstate 95, even though leasing the space sooner would have been better for the company’s bottom line.

Josh Benthien, a partner in Northland Enterprises, said the plans for the site always included a restaurant for that space.

“Originally it was going to be a different food user,” Benthien said Monday. The company had committed, but had not signed a lease, he said, and it opted not to take the space.

“The desire was for someone new to the market,” he said. “We were banging on doors of several Portland-based fast-casual restaurants.”

The partners passed on proposals from other types of businesses to locate there, including a medical practice and some retailers.

“We said no because we wanted to fit the food-user profile,” he said. “We wanted something that would draw a lunch and dinner crowd.”

Northland bought the former Kennebec Journal property in 2011 and redeveloped it into a commercial complex. The space is in the third building to be developed on the property and that’s the last open space in the development. “We’re maxed out for the foreseeable future,” he said.

The property is located next to the Senator Inn and Spa.

A regional office and branch of Bangor Savings Bank are in Journal Square, as are a Goodwill retail store, Starbucks and Supercuts, among others.

“I’m very excited to have this new restaurant coming to Augusta,” Ross Cunningham, Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, said. “It shows the growth that’s happened in Augusta in the last several years is having a substantial impact in allowing a variety of different types of eateries to find success in our region.”

Five Guys Burgers and Fries started with a single restaurant in 1986 in Arlington, Virginia. The company started offering franchises in 2003. Now, it has more than 1,000 locations in 47 states and six Canadian provinces.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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