GARDINER — The historic block of buildings that Gardiner Main Street acquired a little more than two years ago with an eye to developing them has been sold to a graphic artist and a limited liability company.

Piper Panzeri, executive director of Gardiner Main Street, declined to give many details, saying a news release is expected in mid-February.

“I can tell you there will be a coffee shop, a restaurant and an art gallery,” Panzeri said.

According to the terms on the deeds, Alan Claude Inc., is required to “complete substantial redevelopment” of the first floors of the existing buildings it bought at 161 and 165 Water St. by Jan. 2, 2020.

For the rest, 149 Water Street LLC, which has bought 141, 145, 149 and 153 Water St., will be required to complete a substantial redevelopment of the existing buildings and be seeking someone to lease or buy the space by Oct. 24, 2021.

Neither purchaser will be allowed to use the property for a marijuana dispensary, adult entertainment, a nightclub or a bar without prior consent of Camden National Bank — but that’s not required for a restaurant serving alcohol or a brewery with a tasting room.

And neither purchaser will be allowed to bring a company that competes with Camden National Bank, which has offices across Water Street.

Roger Bintliff, who has owned and run several restaurants in Maine, said 149 Water Street is his limited liability corporation. Currently, his plans are to open a coffee shop and bistro and a tasting room and brew pub by early summer. His longer-range plans include opening a breakfast and lunch restaurant.

“I can’t see why it couldn’t be a great success,” Bintliff said.

He’s currently working to pull out lighting fixtures, suspended ceilings and wallboard to uncover the buildings’ original details.

While tenants — including Grow Smart Maine and artist Robert Saunders — have moved out of the buildings, Panzeri said the Gardiner Main Street office is staying put.

In November 2016, Gardiner Main Street bought the block of buildings for $1 from Camden National Bank, which had acquired them the year before through its acquisition of the Bank of Maine.

At that time, Gardiner Main Street was seeking redevelopment partners for the buildings, with work financed through the sale of historical tax credits, grant support, private equity investment and traditional financing.

The block of buildings dates to the mid- to late 1800s and has been known collectively as the Dingley Block, built by the Dingley brothers, who operated a hardware store there for about 50 years. In the decades since, the block has been home to enterprises as varied as a steam laundry; a grocery; a bowling alley; a grist mill; a restaurant; a wood, iron and ship chandlery; and a taxi company.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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