September 11, 2013

Waterville area men on track to own former John Martin's Manor

Michael and David Palmer purchased closed eatery site to protect College Avenue location of Ace Tire & Auto Center, owned by Michael Palmer

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE — Michael Palmer, owner of Ace Tire & Auto Center, and his brother, David Palmer, plan to buy the former John Martin's Manor at 54 College Ave.

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The former John Martin's Manor on College Avenue in Waterville has been purchased by Michael and David Palmer, who await closing on the property in 30 days, and don't have specific plans for the property's future, David Palmer said today.

File photo by Jeff Pouland

Sportech, a United Kingdom company with an American base in New Haven, Conn., owns the building that for many years was a popular eating and banquet spot.

"We're very excited to have the ability and the opportunity to attain such a significant history to the city of Waterville," David Palmer said Tuesday night.

The Palmers said they have not decided what they will do with the property, which includes the restaurant building, a parking lot across Maple Street and a lot the restaurant used for overflow parking, located across Ash Street.

"All options are open," David Palmer said of the brothers' plans. "It's definitely a landmark building for the city of Waterville. We're not going to make a decision overnight."

Michael Palmer's Ace service center is at 4 Drummond Ave. He expanded last year to a second location at 68 College Ave., where he has a used car lot and towing service. That property abuts the lot that was used for overflow Manor parking.

The Palmers on Monday attended an auction hosted by Keenan Auction Co., of South Portland, at the former restaurant. They said Tuesday night that they were at the auction to protect the interests of their second Ace site on College Avenue, which abuts the Manor's former overflow parking site.

"We ended up buying all three properties," David Palmer said. "We went in prepared to do that."

The sale is not final until a closing occurs in 30 days, according to Stefan Keenan of Keenan Auction.

Keenan said earlier Tuesday that the property is under contract. Neither Keenan nor the Palmers would disclose the sale amount.

The Palmers were the sole bidders at Monday's auction, which was no surprise to Keenan, as the building had been damaged in January when pipes froze and flooded parts of it.

If there had not been so much damage to the building, more bidders would have attended, Keenan said. Fixing the building would be costly, he said.

The Manor auction represents Keenan's 6,424th auction in 41 years, Keenan said.

Most of Keenan's auctions involve real estate, and about 30 percent involve disposing of equipment or industrial or commercial assets, he said. Keenan plans to do 350 auctions this year, he said.

Meanwhile, the Palmers said Ace Tire has grown a lot since Michael Palmer bought it 11 years ago from David Ellowitch. At the time, it was called Yudy's.

"We've grown every year," Michael Palmer said.

He and David Palmer and their wives formed a real estate limited-liability corporation that is purchasing the Manor property.

The Palmers said they grew up in Aroostook County, then moved to Bangor. Michael Palmer worked as an auto technician at Yudy's Brewer location.

He came to Waterville 11 years ago to buy and operate Ace. David Palmer said the business has grown every year because his brother keeps expenses down, passes savings on to customers and exceeds customers' expectations.

They said they look forward to being on College Avenue.

"It's really starting to make a nice comeback," David Palmer said. "It's a nice area to have a good comeback."

Amy Calder — 861-9247
acalder@mainetoday.com

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