September 18, 2020

Public, private sectors formed unique partnership

St. Joseph’s Hospital Tab

During the early 1980s, administrators at St. Joseph Hospital realized the need for a separate office building for physicians and some medical facilities. Anticipating this future construction, the hospital acquired nearby properties, including houses and land on French Street and Broadway.

Planning assumed a serious dimension in 1985. A year later, administrators met with Bangor developer Robert Baldacci Jr. They discussed the feasibility of a joint venture between the public and private sectors, in which Baldacci would build an office building on land leased from the hospital. In turn, St. Joseph would lease “as-needed” space in the new building, with the remaining offices being leased by physicians.

“At the time, we didn’t set anything cast in concrete,” Baldacci said. “We wanted to know the hospital’s objectives and financial considerations, and we needed to review our own objectives as a private developer.”

Baldacci and his team (Joseph Ferris, an attorney; James Otis, a certified public accountant; David Lloyd, an architect; and Edward Morgan, a construction manager) met repeatedly with hospital administrators, including vice presidents Charles Wellman and Art Blank. These meetings hammered out a three-story office building that would cost $3.5 million and contain about 34,000 square feet.

“The real leadership on this project came from Sister Mary Norberta. She’s the one who made it happen,” Baldacci said.

Working through a private firm, Baldacci Associates, Baldacci arranged the financing through Maine Savings Bank. The hospital sought project approval from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine, the Felician sisters, and the Vatican.

“We had everything put together by May 1988,” Baldacci recalled.

Before construction started, St. Joseph Hospital petitioned the Bangor City Council to close a portion of French Street, which ran through the site. With the road closed, demolition proceeded on those houses that would be displaced by construction.

Hired as the general contractor was HBE Medical Buildings Inc., a St. Louis-based subsidiary of Hospital Building and Equipment Co. On Sept. 2, 1988, U.S. Sen. George J. Mitchell helped Mother Mary Landeline turn the first shovelful of soil during the official ground-breaking ceremony.

Construction continued through the following winter and into the summer. By fall 1989, the first tenant (Cellular Technology Inc.) moved into new quarters in what the hospital and Baldacci called the Center for Advanced Medicine. The other tenants, including the hospital’s administrative offices, moved in during the winter.

“The project went pretty smoothly; construction came in on budget and on time,” Baldacci said. “It’s been an exciting project to work on, representing a fairly unique partnership between the public sector, in this case St. Joseph Hospital, and the private sector.”

During a ceremony held in June 1990 at the Center for Advanced Medicine, Baldacci dedicated the new building in memory of his grandmothers, Rose Saad Karam and Rita Baldacci Carparelli. A plaque hung in the Center for Advanced Medicine honors the two women.

Born in a small town near Beirut, Lebanon, Rose Saad Karam immigrated to Waterville when she was 15. Studying English at night while working in a local business, she later married another Lebanese immigrant, Elias Karam, and moved with him to Bangor. The Karams had one daughter, Rosemary, who married Robert Baldacci. Sen. George J. Mitchell is Rose Saad Karam’s nephew.

Rita Baldacci Carparelli immigrated to the United States from Italy with her husband in 1924. Initially the family lived in Providence, R.I., where Robert Baldacci and his brother, Vasco, were born. After her husband died in 1935, Rita Baldacci raised her sons while working at different jobs. In 1941, she married Vincent Carparelli, and the family moved to Bangor to operate the Baltimore Restaurant.

“The Center for Advanced Medicine is about people helping people, and that’s how my grandmothers lived their lives, unselfishly giving of themselves to their family, friends, and community,” Robert Baldacci Jr. said during the dedication ceremony.

“This building is more than bricks and mortar,” he commented later in the summer. “My grandmothers were well-known for their caring and compassion and helping others.

“These are the same qualities that St. Joseph Hospital and its employees are known by, helping others in their time of need, giving love unconditionally to everyone, no matter their background, race, religion, or creed,” Baldacci said.

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