Back from the ashes: Tenants to begin moving into rebuilt building on Route 1 in Yarmouth

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YARMOUTH — More than a year and a half after a fire displaced more than two dozen businesses at 500 Route 1, the first tenant will soon move into the rebuilt office building.

The orthodontic practice of Dr. Mark Fischer is expected to reopen by the end of the month. He has been sharing office space in Freeport.

“We’re thrilled to be back here again,” Fischer said on Friday. “Most of our patients are in this area. … It’s kind of a natural fit for us to be back here again.”

Fischer, whose wife Teresa serves as office manager, said his new office will be about 1,600 square feet, roughly twice the size of his space in the original building, where he had operated since 2003.

“It’s been a long year and a half of being like gypsies driving back and forth to Freeport, carrying our … instruments,” he said.

The Jan. 2, 2009, fire was set by Everett S. Stickney of Everett, N.H., who was sentenced last November to 11 ½ years in prison. He had to pay $3.7 million in restitution to the owners of the displaced businesses and their 14 insurance companies. Damage was estimated at about $3.5 million, while more than $1 million was lost in uninsured expenses.

Art Dyer of Harpswell, who owns the property with his wife, Elizabeth, said on Friday that rebuilding began last October. He said the original three-story building, constructed in the 1980s and measuring about 22,000 square feet, housed 26 small businesses.

Its successor is smaller, about 19,000 square feet in two stories, and should fit about five or six larger tenants, Dyer said, noting that fewer businesses will make the property easier to manage.

Besides Fischer, a health-care business and insurance practice are expected to move in.

The Dyers had owned the property for two years before the fire.

“The fire really affected a lot of people, not only financially but emotionally,” Dyer said. “There were a lot of people that lost money.”

Elizabeth Dyer said on Friday that she felt good about the progress at 500 Route 1, but noted that the past year and a half has been stressful for her and her husband.

“It’s just trying to make sure that everything is done right,” she said. “But it’s a positive part now of the whole rebuilding (process), and seeing the building come to life … is rewarding.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or [email protected].

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Art and Elizabeth Dyer of Harpswell say they are pleased to see the first business moving into their reconstructed building at 500 Route 1 in Yarmouth, 19 months after a fire destroyed the structure.

Firefighters douse the front of 500 Route 1 on Jan 2, 2009, when an arson fire destroyed the building.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.