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August 7, 2017

In Bangor, a window of opportunity for the arts

Jim Neuger
Jim Neuger
Brian Hinrichs (left), executive director of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, and his new landlord, Adam Moskovitz of ANM Properties, look onto Exchange Street from the historic building that will house the new Bangor Arts Exchange.

The Bangor Symphony Orchestra will soon have a new home in which to conduct its business and host small concerts and other events. It will be joined by two other local arts groups at what will be known as the Bangor Arts Exchange.

While the orchestra will continue to perform at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine, Orono, its four-member executive staff will move downtown to 187-193 Exchange St. The building is one of six in the historic Nichols Block being revamped by Adam Moskovitz of ANM Properties.

Moving day will be Sept. 5, when the BSO's four-member executive staffers will get settled on the second floor, which it is leasing along with the third-floor ballroom and gallery and the fourth-floor kitchen and storage.

Brian Hinrichs, the BSO's executive director, told Mainebiz during a tour of the site that the 185-capacity ballroom and gallery were appealing as multi-use arts and event spaces.

While the ballroom will be used for youth orchestra rehearsals as well as recitals and special concerts, the gallery will host exhibits curated by Launchpad, a Bangor nonprofit that promotes the arts and creative economy in Maine. The gallery will also be used for rehearsals, meetings and other events.

"We felt we had been missing out" without a venue downtown, said Hinrichs, a trained cellist who joined the BSO in May 2013.

The BSO will share the second floor with Launchpad and the Bangor Ballet. They are joining forces to create a new artistic hub for the Queen City to be called the Bangor Arts Exchange.

While the site is still very much a work in progress, the ballroom is stunning with its hardwood floor and natural light. Known back in the day as Society Hall, it's housed in a building constructed in 1892, four years before the BSO was founded.

BSO 'a perfect fit'

Moskovitz, a Florida native who purchased the Nichols Block in 2016 for an undisclosed price, told Mainebiz last week that it "didn't take long" to think of reaching out to the BSO, a "perfect fit" and anchor tenant.

"I definitely gave the BSO a deal," he said during the tour. "It was important because it gave a foothold into getting the new project started … It's definitely going to pay off."

Moskovitz said there may be further announcements soon on other tenants coming into the Nichols Block as he brainstorms ideas for the still-vacant former bank building at the corner of State and Exchange streets, decorated with marble mouldings, mosaic floors and old vaults.

"This is what sold me" on the property, he says, pointing to the carved mahogany. "You couldn't replicate that for under $100 grand," he said.

Moskovitz said he could imagine the grandiose space being used for offices, boutique shops or even a food court. While he's still seeking a buyer, he said he knows that "it's not a space for everyone."

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