Old Epic Sports Building Will Be New Home Of Wabanaki Center
It's been a couple of months since Bangor's staple store, Epic Sports, closed its doors for good after 25 years of occupying space at 6 Central St. downtown.
Upon its closing, many wondered what organization/business would occupy such a vast space on such a high-profile corner of the city.
It looks as if we no longer have to wonder.
Bangor City Council members approved a plan this past Monday, Nov. 14, to allow the sale of the entire building -- which had multiple owners on multiple floors of the establishment -- to Sky Villa Properties.
A press release put out by David Hughes of Epstein Commerical Real Estate outlined the situation.
"The Bangor City Council voted tonight to approve the purchase of the first floor and mezzanine of 6-16 Central Street by David St. Germain of Sky Villa Properties. The 17,000 sf first floor & mezzanine are Condo Unit #1, are owned by the city, and were formerly occupied by Epic Sports."
"This is one of the most central and prominent buildings in downtown Bangor,” said David St. Germain, of Sky Villa Properties. “David Hughes was instrumental in negotiating with the City and the University to put this building back in service and restore a major anchor to downtown.”
It was also announced this week that Wabanaki Public Health & Wellness will be moving into the space after New Year.
The Wabanaki Public Health & Wellness website says the organization serves members of four federally recognized tribes living both on and off-reservations in Maine: the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township, the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point, and the Penobscot Nation.
"Wabanaki traditions, language, and culture guide our approach and describe the ways we live in harmony with each other and the land we collectively share."
Lisa Sockabasin, current Co-CEO of Wabanaki Public Health & Wellness says when she started with the organization 4 years ago, she was team member #7. Today, the organization has almost 200 team members and multiple offices throughout the state.
"We've just grown exponentially. We're about 70% indigenous. Just amazing, amazing people who make up our team."
Sockabasin says a majority of the team located in Penobscot County have been operating on two different floors in a building in Merchants Plaza, which David St. Germain also owns. This move will allow for not only the consolidation of space for those staff members but also the potential to better represent the Wabanaki people in a very visible way.
"Our team is expanding, and we really needed to look at space that we could grow into, but also that we could realize those dreams that we had as an organization. One of those dreams being a Youth & Cultural Center where we're highlighting Wabanaki land, Wabanaki waters, people, who we were thousands of years ago, and who we are today. And really providing our Wababaki youth a place where they can come and gather and connect to culture."
"So it really is going to be a site where people can connect, people can learn, and hopefully, gain a bigger perspective on who indigenous people are, as well as our own people feeling like they have a spot, right in the middle of Wabanaki territory, that highlights and celebrates who they are."
Sockabasin says the space is a dream come true for the organization, with its high visibility windows right in the heart of downtown. She says they plan to involve the community and their young people in the design and layout process of how they will fill all of those beautiful picture windows that run along that corner of the city.
"What you're going to experience is a collective vision of Wabanaki people and their skills in that window space. Hopefully, you're going to see a beautiful representation of our culture, through our art, through who we are as people and through our language. And I hope that people feel like the space is a space that will greet them with a "Wabanaki Welcome"; a welcome that will include a smile, love and real eagerness to share our culture with anyone who wants to learn."
Sockabasin says they have an aggressive timeline to be in the building after the first of the year.