Deadline extended for Odd Fellows Hall purchase

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NORWAY – The prospective buyer of the Odd Fellows Hall has been given an extra two weeks to close on the old brick building that sits empty and dark on Main Street.

“I have talked further with Rick [Lockwood], and we’re going to be able to reach an agreement,” John Shattuck, president of the Growth Council of Oxford Hills, said Wednesday. “I am confident to extend him out a closing date no later than Jan. 15.”

Shattuck said he made the arrangement with Lockwood earlier in the day.

Before Christmas, Shattuck told Norway selectmen he was concerned that Lockwood would not come through with the $150,000 for the 112-year-old property in time. The three-story building is a major presence at 201 Main St., and if filled with stores, would add to the bustle and color of a downtown trying to come back to life. The back of the building overlooks Pennesseewassee Stream.

The council bought the building for $68,000 in 2002, but abandoned its plans to redevelop it, citing cost.

Lockwood has estimated he will invest $800,000 in the property, and hopes to attract a four-star restaurant for the basement with views of the stream and new townhouses beyond.

Lockwood, a contractor based in Gorham, signed a purchase and sale agreement for the building in early November, promising to pay the full price by Dec. 31.

But he told the Growth Council early last week that he needed a few extra days to make his payment, according to Shattuck.

In the meantime, another prospective buyer entered the picture, and now will wait on the sidelines to see how the deal works out.

“According to what the other party says, they remain interested,” Shattuck said.

Lockwood has said he was surprised to learn that the deal was iffy. “You see, everything’s back on track,” he said Wednesday. In a conversation last week he indicated he would definitely close on the building by mid-January.

Shattuck said he grew concerned because of the lack of communication between the Growth Council and Lockwood before Shattuck’s Dec. 21 announcement that the deal might be on shaky ground. But in the past few days, communication improved, he said.

An added incentive to continue working with Lockwood is the contractor’s invitation to the gift store, Maine Made & More, to occupy the first two floors of the building. The store will have to move out of its current Main Street location to make way for a Norway Savings Bank expansion.

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