Editor’s note: According to David Duguay, the lease is pending state approval. (updated April 9, 2014)

RUMFORD — The state Bureau of Motor Vehicles office in Mexico will move this summer to the former Amato’s restaurant building across from Hannaford on Route 2.

A 10-year lease was signed Friday, David Duguay said.

“It’s a state-of-the-art building that’s all up to code and they really like the site,” Duguay said. “They like the location and they like its visibility.”

Duguay and his wife, Patricia, both of Byron, and Steve Roderick of Oxford, the general manager and owner of Amato’s in Norway, and his wife, Sandra, comprise Gateway Plaza LLC.

Each owns 25 percent of the company that constructed and opened the Rumford Amato’s in December 2011, and then closed it in March 2013, David Duguay said.

Since then, the building has been for sale or lease.

Duguay said that last fall, state Rep. Sheryl Briggs, D-Mexico, state Rep. Matt Peterson, D-Rumford, and state Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford, told him that the Bureau of Motor Vehicles couldn’t renew its lease at its current location because it’s in the Androscoggin River flood zone.

To prevent the office from being moved out of the River Valley, the local legislators told Duguay of their desire to keep it here.

“So they searched the towns and the only feasible place was upstairs in Amato’s,” he said. “It’s going to be a nice investment.”

He said Gateway Plaza had been negotiating with the state agency since October.

Duguay said Gateway Plaza needs to renovate it to agency specifications, so he contacted Rumford and Mexico Town Manager John Madigan.

At Thursday night’s meeting of Rumford selectmen, Madigan told the board that he had learned of an economic development project and needed the board to add an item to the agenda to convene an executive session to discuss an economic development matter.

Selectmen voted unanimously to add it to the agenda after two scheduled closed-door sessions for consultations with legal counsel.

Late Thursday night, Madigan said the board took no action after exiting the first two executive sessions, but acted on two motions after the economic development session.

The first motion was to authorize the town manager and town attorney to pursue an amendment to the current TIF agreement with Gateway Plaza LLC. That was seconded and approved 5-0, Madigan said.

The block where Amato’s is located is known as the Gateway Parcel and is one of Rumford’s new TIF districts. Selectmen set up a TIF with Gateway for Amato’s in 2011.

The second motion was to authorize the town manager and town attorney to work with the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments on terms for a loan for Gateway Plaza LLC from Rumford’s Urban Development Action Grant loan fund. That was also approved 5-0.

When asked for particulars, Madigan deferred comment to Duguay.

“He’s trying to make something happen,” Madigan said.

Duguay said they needed the selectmen’s help to pursue bringing the state agency to Rumford.

“It’s a good chunk of change that we’re going to invest in (the building),” he said. “We still believe in that location.”

He said Gateway is considering adding a laundromat in the basement of the Amato’s building but needs to ensure that type of business wouldn’t interfere with daily operations of the Bureau of Motor Vehicle.

Additionally, Gateway owns nearby property and plans to tear down some buildings and increase the lot size for further economic development projects.

“We’re hoping this will be a good anchor for the area and we’ll find something for the basement, too,” Duguay said. “This is pretty exciting stuff.”

He said he hopes everything will be ready by August for the agency to move into the building.

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