A major renovation and addition to the former Best Buy in Auburn, bottom right, is underway with the steel framework taking shape Tuesday afternoon. Evergreen Subaru will be moving from its Center Street location once construction is completed. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

This week in the Buzz, the b’s have it: Bates, Best Buy building big.

Renovation work is underway at Bates Mill No. 2 creating Northeast Bank’s new space. Submitted photo

The fifth floor renovation of Bates Mill No. 2, future home to Northeast Bank, is well underway with the Lewiston code office issuing a permit for the $1.9 million project last month to Platz Associates.

The bank announced in November that it would move its local operations center out of the four-story building at Lewiston’s gateway into 17,000 square feet within the mill instead. It’s current lease was nearly up and in the new space, employees have the benefit of being able to work on a single floor, according to Vice President and Marketing Director Chris Delamater.

Renovations are projected to be done by late September, with staff

An architect’s rendering of the new Northeast Bank space inside Bates Mill No. 2. Submitted photo

moving in to the “state-of-the-art operations center” the next month. Delamater said there’s room for 60 existing employees as well as room for growth.

“The bank is pleased to continue our commitment to the Lewiston/Auburn community via a long-term investment in the Bates Mill Complex,” he said. “The new location provides enhanced space for our team to collaborate and support customers in Maine and across the nation.”

And across the river

The former Best Buy is getting bigger.

Evergreen Subaru Managing Owner Doug Weisz stands at the former Best Buy store in Auburn, where the auto sales company will relocate from Center Street in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

As part of Evergreen Subaru’s renovation and expansion, a new building is going up in front of the big-box store at 649 Turner St. The Auburn code office issued a permit for the $105,000 foundation project last month.

Once the two buildings are joined and complete, the new space will be about 40,000 square feet, “which is three times what we’ve got now,” owner Doug Weisz said.

The gutted, former retail building will become the new workshop area with lifts and technicians.

“Everything forward from that is where we have dug a foundation and we have a pre-engineered building coming that will go up on-site,” Weisz said. “That will become a service drive, our showroom, our admin space and a delivery drive as well — we’ll be able to do indoor deliveries, which we’re excited about.”

An artist’s rendering of the future Evergreen Subaru dealership on Turner Street in Auburn. Submitted photo

From the exterior, it’ll look like one seamless building. He’s hoping to move the dealership from Center Street to its new home at either the end of this year or early next.

“We had outgrown our space several years ago,” Weisz said. “Even in the worst of the March-April shutdown, we still had more demand than we had capacity. It’s nice a problem to have, but it’s still a problem — we’re underserving our customers. I would like to be able to have the phone ring and my team just tell someone blindly, ‘Bring the car in,’ rather than make an appointment. That’s the ideal. It takes a lot of space and capacity.”

And across the state

Some 647 Mainers have reported pandemic-related fraud or other issues to the Federal Trade Commission, according to a new FTC tally through June 8.

The top complaint: 75 reports of travel or vacation fraud (think not getting refunds, etc.)

That was followed by 63 complaints about online shopping (items arriving late or not as ordered), 56 related to health care, 27 to housing and 23 to food.

The FTC said the fraud totaled $140,000 for Maine. Around New England, that compares to $155,000 in New Hampshire, $45,000 in Vermont, $696,000 in Massachusetts, $288,000 in Connecticut and $95,000 in Rhode Island.

Interesting, and unfortunate, stats for your next party, when, you know, we’re having dinner parties again.

Quick hits about business comings, goings and happenings. Have a Buzzable tip? Contact staff writer Kathryn Skelton at 689-2844 or [email protected]


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