FREEPORT — The former Freeport Village Square building at 5 Depot St. may look the same on the outside, but inside, owner Alan Mooney has been busy converting it into a multipurpose space.
Mooney purchased the building in April, with the initial desire to give his firm, Criterium Engineers, a new office.
In addition to Criterium, however, 5 Depot St. is also now home to FreeportWerkes, a collaborative workspace on the ground floor. A grand opening for the workspace was scheduled for Nov. 15 from 4:30-7:30 p.m.
Mooney is also in the process of developing a new performance venue called “Cadenza.” Within Cadenza, Mooney is also planning a cafe.
Some businesses in the original Freeport Village Square building have also remained in place, including Wildflower florists and Casco Bay Cutlery.
Shondra Jin Skin Care, Edward Jones, and the engineering consultant McFarland Johnson are also remaining in the building, although they are each moving into new spaces.
Mooney said he had the idea to develop a performance space in the building, in part, because of its history.
The room where Cadenza will be housed was the home of Freeport Cabaret from around 2005 until 2010, before the operators changed the name.
It then became The Freeport Theater of Awesome, which primarily hosted musical and comedy performances for adults and children before closing in August 2014.
When he bought the space, Mooney said he thought it was “an interesting building architecturally,” but he did not have a sense of what he would do with the available space aside from giving his company a new office.
“Then when I got thinking about it I said, ‘Well gosh, this is a theater space,'” he said. “There’s a lot of interest in a place for live performances in Freeport.”
Mooney said he also knew his longtime piano teacher and co-owner of the Mid Coast School of Music, Matt Fogg, had always dreamed of having a space in Freeport to do performances, which was another source of inspiration.
While the space is still under construction, Mooney said he has committed to sound and lighting systems and has a plan for how the room will be laid out.
He is also planning a cafe inside an interior room within the theater, which will sell coffee and sandwiches to workers at 5 Depot St. during the day and function as a concession area for evening performances.
Mooney also hopes to collaborate with Maine State Music Theater in Brunswick to use Cadenza, and he said MSMT is “very interested” in the idea.
He hopes to have one or two invitation-only soft openings of the theater next month.
“There’s a lot of positive energy, if you will, and coming together for this space,” he said.
Across the hall, a business also built on the idea of coming together is complete.
Freeport Werkes, the brainchild of Tom Siegel, will offer professionals in town an area to do their work if they are in need of office space.
Siegel, a real estate appraiser, was in need of a space to expand his business and also had a dream to begin a collaborative workspace in town.
“I wanted to be in Freeport, I didn’t want to be in Portland, so I thought this should exist in Freeport – there are other people that I know that would like this,” he said.
When he approached Mooney about launching the initiative at 5 Depot St., Mooney had coincidentally just hired an employee that he was placing in a co-working space.
After Siegel secured the spot at 5 Depot St. his wife, Sarah Siegel, also signed on to work there with him, and Siegel credits her with making it “a hub for community.”
Sarah said she believes there is a “global co-working movement,” with more of the spaces popping up in areas such as Portland, and that everywhere could use FreeportWerkes’s core values of “community, networking and collaboration.”
Tom echoed that sentiment.
“You have a work community when you’re working for a company, but if you’re on your own you obviously don’t have that,” he said. “There are some days where it’s starting to fill up and you really do have that sense that you’re kind of here together, even though everyone is working in different professions.”
The building at 5 Depot St., formerly known as Freeport Village Square, is undergoing a renovation and will include a performance space, a cafe, and an already-open community workspace in addition to offices.
Alan Mooney has purchased the building at 5 Depot St, formerly known as Freeport Village Square, and is renovating it to include a performance space and cafe in addition to offices and an already-open community workspace.
Freeport Werkes, a co-work center launched by local real estate appraiser Tom Siegel, is located on the first floor of 5 Depot St. and was scheduled for a grand opening Nov. 15.