The residents of Brunswick will gather at the sight of the historic Town Hall building on May 15—not for a meeting, but rather an opportunity to shop.
The former Grand City building on Maine Street, which closed two years ago, is currently being renovated into Town Hall Place. The location will house Kip Stone's sixth retail store, Cool As A Moose, which sells Maine-themed clothing.
"I'm looking forward to being part of the community," said Stone. "Part of my responsibility as owner of the building is to pay honor to the site and do something worthy of what was once there, and try to capture the original spirit of the space."
There are currently three locations of Cool As A Moose in Maine and two more in Canada.
Sales Manager for the Cool As A Moose stores Jada Clement said she was excited for the new location in Brunswick.
"The town has a really wonderful feel," said Clement. "I love that the College is there and that the store is right on Route 1, so it will draw a lot of people, especially in summertime."
Stone's screen-printing company, Artforms, will relocate from a mill in Westbrook to the new Town Hall Place building as well.
"For me, it's an exciting project," said Stone. "I started Artforms 23 years ago, and I feel like we're on the verge of finally having a permanent form."
Stone originally purchased the 31,000-square-foot building in March 2010 with plans for redevelopment.
"What [Stone] really wanted to do was to create a new face on Maine Street," said David Matero, architect of the project and member of The DayMatero studio in Bath. "He wanted to modernize it."
The new design utilizes an open layout to allow plenty of light.
"I wanted to create a space that's professional and light-filled...that honors the history of the site," said Stone.
"One of the first things we did when we looked at the project was bring in a lot more light," added Matero. Large glass windows will be the major sources providing natural sunlight.
According to Town Hall Place contractor Mike Ouellet of Ouellet Associates, who began working on the project this past December, the building will also include solar shades, a special type of energy-efficient glass "to bring natural light as far into the building as possible."
Ouellet explained that the sunshades improve energy efficiency by contracting during the winter to increase the natural heat of the sun, and extending in the summer to reflect the hotter sun.
Moreover, vision windows inside the building will allow customers to see the production of goods in progress.
"[You] will be able to look down in the basement and see your shirts and wear being printed," said Matero. "I think it'll be an interesting component to the store and hopefully provide more of a connection to [purchased] items."
The building will also feature a canopy on the store-front, facing Maine Street.
"It will rejuvenate a very important building on Maine Street and bring life to a vacant corner," said Ouellett.
"He sees this as a home for his employees, his employees are like brothers and sisters," added Ouellett. "It's quite obvious from visiting the current site that they have a family unit that's very vibrant."
Stone divided up the space between his Cool As A Moose store, which will be on the first floor at the front of the building, and Artforms, which will have offices in the back of the first floor and a production area on the bottom level.
"It's not fair to call [the production area] a basement," said Ouellett. "It's the lower level...very interconnected to rest of the building."
Matero noted that even the production area would receive sunlight.
"What we did was take out almost 4,000 feet of first floor to open up the production area, so that the basement would have a higher ceiling," said Matero.
"By adding skylights, it will bring light from the roof to production."
Stone also had aspirations for building a restaurant in the building, but he deemed it unnecessary after looking into the possibility.
"I contemplated that for a long time," said Stone. "But...my area of expertise has nothing to do with serving food."
"[There are] more than enough extremely good restaurants in downtown Brunswick, and I don't think I'm the right guy for that," added Stone. "I leave that to people who are good at it."
Stone did note some difficulties during the renovation process, namely the "huge amount of demolition work" that was needed.
"The building needed to be gutted right to the walls," he said.
Other challenges involved removing asbestos, the installation of the elevator and finding energy-efficient solutions for upgrading the building.
Stone is looking forward to starting his businesses in Brunswick.
"I'm happy to have my company at the heart of the community," said Stone. "We bring a lot of creative energy, talent and committed employees in the heart of the town."
"[Stone] could have easily built this in an industrial setting if he were just looking for bottom line," said Ouellett. "He wants to be part of the fabric of community."
Stone said that his businesses would bring several job opportunities. In fact, some positions have already been filled by Brunswick residents.
"I'm hopeful that most of the Artforms employees will follow us to Brunswick, but the reality is over time that [longer] commute will not be worth it for some people, so quite a few jobs will be opened up," said Stone.
"We work for a lot of clients, and it's obvious that it is very personal for Kip," said Ouellett. "I think it's going to be a wonderful building when it is all complete."
"It's nice to see Maine Street without a void," he added.