More than a few visitors to downtown Belfast have noted, with nervous respect, the small crew of workers circulating on roof of the Masonic Temple building like inhabitants of a tiny desert island 50 feet off the ground.

Horch Roofing of Warren spent several days replacing the roof on the 139-year-old building, which came under new ownership in January.

George MacLeod, local representative and broker for the building's new owner, John Warren, said the old shingles removed this week predated the last owner, Alan Fouts, who bought the building from the Masonic Temple Association in 1995.

MacLeod said, many of the windows on the upper floors will be replaced soon and improvements are planned for the electrical and heating systems.

On a parallel track to the repairs and renovations, MacLeod said he and Warren have been interviewing current tenants and fielding proposals for a large vacant street level space. The prime corner space was home to the law offices of Blake & Hazard for 40 years before the partners closed the practice in December 2016.

MacLeod said he's received dozens of inquires, many of them from local businesses hoping to move to a better location or expand. Other inquiries have come from around Maine and at least one was from a business in New York City, he said.

The prime location at downtown Belfast's central intersection has made the space the object of much speculation around town. MacLeod said the space will probably be rented to a larger business with other existing stores rather than being carved up into smaller spaces like the surrounding storefronts.

The small shops are great for the character and vitality of the town," he said, "but we would like to have something larger because we do have that larger space. Were hoping we can put something in to draw some more traffic downtown and not just compete for the same customers."

He added that, for practical reasons, the next tenant will probably be a retailer, rather than a restaurant.

"When you get to restaurants, you have to get into trucks delivering," he said, "there's a lot of trash, you probably have to sprinkler the whole building, ADA, it gets much more complicated when you do that."

MacLeod said a smaller cafe is "not off the table," particularly one that brings in food prepared off-site.

"Kind of like a Starbucks does," he said. "That's a possibility."

Starbucks, however, is not a possibility. The city's zoning ordinance prohibits "formula restaurants" in the downtown commercial district where the Masonic Temple is situated.