BELFAST — Property owners Alex and Kendra Brigham are getting final city approvals to develop a new building at 126 Church St. There will be office space available on the first floor and two rental units on the second floor, according to Earl Mackenzie, who is overseeing the project.

The idea for the new building was made public last fall when Mackenzie started talking with city officials at meetings. The old building was demolished earlier this year but over the last couple of weeks crews started removing the rest of the old foundation wall, Mackenzie said.

The “upscale” second-floor apartments will have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, along with private entrances, Mackenzie said. One of the apartments will have access to the roof, which will house a small garden of herbs and other plants.

The building will have a brick façade to match other downtown buildings, he said. The upper windows will be arched with granite keystones around them for an “old-world feel,” he said. There will be ornate trim around the roof with an arched main entryway.

Inside the main entryway along the back wall, there will be historical references to the area, he said. He is working with the Belfast Historical Society and Museum on that. The owners are also considering placing a clock and temperature gauge on the outside of the building but will work with the city on how to do that so it does not look “tacky,” he said.

“It’s going to be nice for Church Street,” he said. “It’ll kind of revitalize that part of town a little bit more, I think, because the old building that was there wasn’t very interesting.”

There will also be a 6-by-8-foot vault under the building to hold a 100-year time capsule, he said. It will be a secure place where no moisture can get in. A sign in the building will remind people that there is a time capsule there so it will not be forgotten, which has happened in other places.

Inside the capsule will be information from educational institutions throughout the state on current topics and predictions about how those topics might unfold after 100 years, he said. “People will be able to see what we thought the future might be,” he said. The time capsule will emphasize Waldo County and Belfast.

Alex Brigham is from the Boston area but lives in Islesboro, where he summered growing up, Mackenzie told The Republican Journal in a previous interview. He has a passion for environmental conservation work and intends to make the new building eco-friendly.

The building will operate on electricity only, no gas or oil, and it will be energy efficient, Mackenzie said. Brigham also owns the building next door on the corner of Church and Main streets. He has already completed some upgrades to that building and intends to do more, like replace some of the windows.

People will be able to see the existing arched windows at the 121 Main St. building over the new two-story building at 126 Church St., Mackenzie said. The old wooden building blocked those windows on the corner building.

The former 126 Church St. building was demolished earlier this year. It housed multiple businesses since it was built in 1905, including a dry-cleaning business. Mackenzie thinks the old building was past its prime and was not intended to last as long as it did, he said. He expected push-back from some residents who thought it might have been historically significant, but experienced none.

The building at 126 Church Street in 1915. Courtesy of The Belfast Historical Society and Museum

So far, public feedback has been positive, Mackenzie said. With Maine Coast Construction as the main builder, along with other local contractors, he hopes construction will be done by next summer. The owners are not looking to flip the property, he said, describing it as a “long-term legacy project.”

Though there have been challenges, he has worked with many people who have helped him navigate the difficulties caused by the labor shortage and pandemic, he said. The city has also been helpful along the way, “They’ve been very willing to go the extra mile to help us out to make this all happen,” he said.

Related Headlines