One of the quiet sentinels of a key downtown Gloucester crossroads — the former Safe Deposit & Trust Co. building at Duncan and Main streets — has been acquired by a distressed property turnaround specialist, Gloucester resident William Thibeault. Thibeault acquired the largely unused office building for $675,000 from attorney George Levantis, who had a home and offices in the building before moving to Nevada.
Efforts to reach Thibeault were unsuccessful Friday; however, he has earned a reputation for the restoration and revitalization of distressed properties. His work has included breathing new life into the dilapidated wharves and grounds of the old D&B Bait Co. on Commercial Street — the property acquired by Monte Rome as the new retail store, processing and office space of Intershell, the seafood company.
Long known as the Low block, the old Main Street building had been the home of the long-defunct Safe Deposit and Trust Co. since 1875 and perhaps longer, according to city archivist Sarah Dunlap.
In recent years, the building — next to which now sits the Lobster Trap Christmas Tree — had been little used, and as such, it's presented the downtown with an unperforming property that's seen as holding back the retail shopping district, city officials and planners have long agreed.
"It's cool that someone has bought it," Sarah Garcia, the city development director, said Friday.
"Ideally, there would be a first-floor use that would produce active foot traffic," said Garcia. "Across the street, Magic Scarf is great.
"You want interest and color at the intersection," she said, referring to the crossroads that includes Main, Duncan and Pleasant streets.
"The building has nice architectural integrity," Garcia said.
The expanded BankGloucester complex, diagonally across the street from the bank building, created color and interest at the intersection through its significant renovation, completed in 2008. And Garcia said she was hopeful the new owner would put the old bank building into the same kind of use.
Until recently, Carlson, the real estate brokerage, occupied the first floor of the building Thibeault acquired.
Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3464, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.