Former Mechanic Falls freight station to become storage

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CONVERSION — The former Mechanic Falls railroad freight building is receving a facelift including new siding to cover damage caused by a 2010 fire. 

MECHANIC FALLS — A former railroad freight station on Maple Street is expected to reopen as indoor storage units later this summer.

George Woo of Virtual Commerce Inc. in New Hampshire, which bought the building at a foreclosure auction in 2013, said attempts were made to find a new owner who might be able to preserve the interior of the building, but to no avail.

“We definitely worked hard to get as many people in there to preserve that building. The inside space is so beautiful. It’s really sad,” he said of the 6,600-plus-square-foot building at 68 Maple St., Mechanic Falls.

The 19th century building was marketed by the New Hampshire company that specializes in real estate redevelopment and online marketing, as a possible site for a church, day care, fraternal organization or other meeting place that could “utilize a sunny large open space with kitchen facility and on-site parking.”

In recent years the building had been occupied by a succession of restaurants and bars, including the Bog Hoot Bar & Grill and before that as Rockin’ Roscoe’s and the Loose Caboose Restaurant.

Woo said three years ago the company put out advertisements for the property hoping to attract persons interested in reusing the space for a restaurant or banquet space or similar business. It had seating capacity of 180, a fireplace and a 21-foot-by-7-foot horseshoe-shaped bar.

“As an entrepreneur I tried to work with offering financing packaging. We couldn’t find the right consumer,” he said.

Woo said the problem may have been that the building is slightly off Main Street.

It was constructed in the late 1800s as one of several Portland and Rumford Falls Railroad freight buildings in town. The building was situated near the small passenger station then operating at the terminus of the Grand Trunk Railroad, which served Portland to Montreal traffic, according to a Boston University dissertation written by Charles Ian Stevenson in 2013.

Mechanic Falls was a major railroad terminus in the late 1800s and was used by several railroad companies.

Despite the importance of the location more than 100 years ago, today the building’s site in a residential location, but still a stone’s throw from downtown, may have been a deterrent, Woo said.

“It’s a hard location to see from Main Street,” said Woo. Eventually it was decided to convert the building into indoor storage units that will be heated in the winter and cooled in the summer and have year-round humidity control.

There will 35 units in the main building and several phases of build outs on the 2-acre property to provide outdoor accessible units.

A small floor and one-half story garage on the property may be used for another business such as an ice cream stand or a laundromat or auto service.

“It’s still available. We’re willing to remodel,” he said.

The exterior of the building, which is undergoing renovations to restore siding that was damaged during a fire in 2010 at what was then known as the Loose Caboose Restaurant, will be preserved, he said.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net