Six Old Port properties to be auctioned online

August 23, 2013 in Articles

Author: Randy Billings
Publication: Portland Press Herald

Current tenants include Buck’s Naked BBQ, Fore Play, Gorgeous Gelato, The Merry Table Crêperie and Shine Salon.

PORTLAND - Six Old Port properties are once again headed to the auction block -- only this time, the bidding will take place online.

The building at 25 Wharf St., seen in this July 2011 photo, is currently occupied by Buck's Naked BBQ. It is one of the buildings that will be auctioned online Sept. 23-25. - 2011 Press Herald file photo/John Ewing

Image provided by Cardente Real Estate shows the Old Port properties that will be auctioned online.

Cardente Real Estate said in a news release Thursday that it was handling the local marketing for this fall's auction of properties with frontage on Fore and Wharf streets.

The list of current tenants includes Buck's Naked BBQ, Oasis, Fore Play, Gorgeous Gelato, Pearl Lounge, Merry Table, Ollo Salon, Blazin Ace, 51 Wharf Street Restaurant and Shine Salon.

The six buildings on two blocks total 49,567 square feet and will be sold as a package. Four buildings have retail frontage on Fore, Union and Wharf streets, while the remaining two buildings have frontage on Wharf and Union streets.

"Since their construction, these buildings have played a major role in defining the Old Port; an area that has a national recognition for its restaurants and boutiques," Michael Cardente, a broker/partner at Cardente, said in a written statement.

This is the second time the properties have been auctioned in as many years.

In 2011, the properties were auctioned off as part of a foreclosure process. Seven bidders competed for the properties during a live auction held onsite. The bidding started at $3.675 million, but the mortgage holder, BACM 2007-3 Wharf Street LLC, retained the properties with a bid of $5.9 million.

The properties are currently being managed by the Florida-based LNR Partners, Cardente said in an email.

In 2007, the properties sold for $8.31 million.

The online auction will take place from Sept. 23-25 at Cardente will provide tours of the properties from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 6 and 25.

Cardente Commercial Real Estate Brokers Sale 84,000 +/- Square Foot Office Tower in Portland

August 23, 2013 in Articles

Author: Staff
Portland, Maine - One of the most well known commercial buildings of Portland's skyline, the Peoples United Building, sold yesterday for $5,550,000. The 10 story office building is located at 465 Congress Street in the Financial District and provides 84,000 +/- square feet of office/commercial space. Known by many as the Maine Bank & Trust Building, the the former bank was acquired by Peoples United in 2009. In the same year, a commercial investor out of Bangor, L.E. Springer Inc, purchased the building.  465 Congress Street sold yesterday to 5 Monument Square, LLC; also a commercial real estate investor and developer with major holdings in the Old Port and other areas throughout Greater Portland. Karen Rich, Partner & Vice President of Cardente Real Estate, represented the Seller in the sale and the Purchaser was represented by Steven Baumann of Compass Commercial Brokers.

Portland committee OKs sale of downtown plaza

August 22, 2013 in Articles

Author: Randy Billings
Publication: Portland Press Herald

The City Council will vote on the $524,000 agreement for Congress Square Plaza on Sept. 9.

PORTLAND – Over the objection of more than a dozen residents, the City Council's Housing and Community Development Committee voted 3-1 Wednesday to sell most of a downtown plaza to a developer that wants to build an event center.

The Congress Square Plaza is seen in this aerial image on Saturday, August 17, 2013. - Gabe Souza

The council will vote on the purchase-and-sale agreement Sept. 9, said Councilor Nicholas Mavodones, who chairs the committee.

Under the agreement, Rockbridge Capital would pay about $524,000 for 9,500 square feet of the nearly half-acre plaza at the corner of High and Congress streets.

The developer would pay an additional $45,000 to improve adjacent sidewalks and $50,000 toward a comprehensive planning effort for the entire intersection, known as Congress Square.

The deal would leave 4,800 square feet, not including sidewalks, for a new public plaza. The design of that space is being included in a visioning process for Congress Square that is just getting under way.

Councilor Kevin Donoghue was the only committee member to oppose the sale Wednesday night. He cited the lack of design details for the new plaza and any provision in case the new plaza doesn't work out as hoped.

"It is for that reason I can't ignore the overwhelming public comment from the residents of this city," Donoghue said. "I really don't feel I have a mandate to vote yes, or feel I have enough information to vote yes on behalf of the residents."

Rockbridge Capital is in the middle of a nearly $50 million renovation of the former Eastland Park Hotel, which is expected to open in December as the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel.

Rockbridge proposes a 5,000-square-foot event space in a 9,500-square-foot addition. The wall facing the plaza would be glass and the lobby area would double as an art gallery.

According to the sale agreement, the event center would have to be the primary use for at least 10 years, with at least six public art shows held there each year.

Any conversion to a non-hotel use after that period would require City Council approval.

Councilor Edward Suslovic said the event center would bring 300-400 people per event, which would boost business downtown. The additional revenue -- from the sale of the land and the property taxes -- could be used to pay for a comprehensive redesign of Congress Square, he said.

"We could have done that without (the event center), but we hadn't, and quite frankly I don't think we had the financial resources to do that without the revenue coming in," Suslovic said.

During more than an hour of public comment, 16 residents spoke against the sale -- describing both the purchase price and the amount of space for a new plaza as "a slap in the face."

Many opposed city Economic Development Director Greg Mitchell's assertion that the existing plaza is a blighted area that would be cleaned up by the development.

Opponents have long claimed -- and City Councilor John Coyne has conceded -- that the city has neglected the plaza.

John Branson, an attorney who provided free services to the Occupy Maine group when it took over Lincoln Park a year and a half ago, said the city's real concern seems to be with the people who use the park -- mostly low- to no-income people.

"People are not blight," said Branson, who said he was asked recently to help opponents of the sale, "perhaps legally."

Frank Turek of the Friends of Congress Square Park said the sale seems to go against multiple city plans, none of which calls for the sale of Congress Square Plaza, and instead call for protecting and enhancing public open space.

Six people, most affiliated with business groups, spoke in support of the sale, saying it would bring in much-needed business to the arts district.

Chis O'Neil, from the Portland Community Chamber, gave the plan a "thumbs up."

Steve Hewins, interim director of Portland's Downtown District, said more convention space is needed to bring people downtown in the winter. Convention business spills over to other hotels, and four new hotels are being built downtown, he said.

"If we have a vision of creating a year-round destination for Portland, which I think we do, we need to fill rooms outside the months of July, August, September and October," Hewins said.

Parkside resident Jill Barkley also supported the sale, saying it would be an economic benefit and generate money for the city to make a better -- if not smaller -- public park.

Opponents, however, said that if the council is intent on selling the land for development, it should solicit other proposals to find the highest and best use, rather than working exclusively with Rockbridge Capital.

Tim Shannon, a Portland lawyer, said Congress Street is a "marquee property" and the city has been given a false choice of choosing the development plan or maintaining the status quo.

"An underutilized park in a prime location need not be turned into a bland single-story concrete bunker," Shannon said. "This could be much more than it is right now."

John Eder said the council is at odds with its constituents and is poised to take an action that mars its legacy.

"You're choosing an outside developer over residents," Eder said. "You are setting up a very contentious process with your citizens."

Home sales jump 31% in July

August 22, 2013 in News

Author: MaineBiz

Single-family home sales for July jumped nearly 31% over last year, according to the latest statistics from the Maine Real Estate Information System.

Biddeford Market Basket a big hit among early shoppers

August 22, 2013 in Articles

Author: Beth Quimby
Publication: Portland Press Herald

The new 107,000-square foot store boasts 9-foot wide aisles, a sushi bar, pizza shop, lunch counter and 60,000 items.

BIDDEFORD - With shoppers waiting outside, the doors were opened about 75 minutes ahead of schedule Sunday morning at the new Market Basket grocery store at the Biddeford Crossing plaza on Route 111.

Market Basket opens its first Maine store, at Biddeford Crossing on Route 111 in Biddeford, on Sunday morning. - Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

Shoppers leave Market Basket as it opens its first store in Maine, in Biddeford, on Sunday. - Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

Micum McIntire, the store's manager, said even though the official opening was set for 7 a.m., the store wanted to accommodate the predawn customers.

"Good morning, shoppers, and welcome to our first store in the state," McIntire announced over the sound system as shoppers poured in.

By 7:15 a.m., the 500-car parking lot was full and lines were forming at all 24 registers as customers browsed 9-foot-wide aisles stocked with gleaming rows of perfectly arranged products.

Shoppers had 60,000 different products to choose from.

The 107,000-square-foot store is the largest supermarket in Maine, according to Market Basket officials.

The Massachusetts-based chain enters an increasingly competitive market in Maine.

Less than a decade ago the supermarket landscape was dominated by Hannaford and Shaw's. With the entry of warehouse and discount department stores and high-end specialty stores, that landscape now includes Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, Walmart and Target stores.

Known for its low prices, Market Basket operates stores in 71 other locations. David McLean, Market Basket's operations manager, said that based on customer demand, the company had been looking for a Maine location and saw an opportunity in the space vacated by Lowe's at Biddeford Crossing.

"Biddeford is turning into a shopping mecca," McLean said.

He pointed out the new store's tiled floors and covered ceilings, which he said offer shoppers a more aesthetically pleasing experience than warehouse stores.

On Sunday morning, many of the early shoppers said they had been driving to the nearest Market Basket -- more than 30 miles away in New Hampshire -- for years.

"I usually go to the Market Basket in Portsmouth," said Helen Bergeron of Sanford, one of the first shoppers through the registers.

Christina Shea of Saco pushed a cart, one of 750 at the store, piled high with goods. She carried a shopping list and coupons, but her cart included a number of impulse purchases she said she had to buy because the prices were so good.

"The cart is full, so I have got to stop," said Shea.




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