$38 million Portland project 'starting to gel'

August 28, 2013 in Articles

Author: Randy Billings
Publication: Portland Press Herald

Planning Board members give favorable reviews to the ambitious Bayside plan for apartments and retail space.

PORTLAND – Preliminary designs for the first phase of a high-rise apartment and retail complex in the Bayside neighborhood received favorable reviews from the Planning Board on Tuesday.

click image to enlarge

An artist rendering of the 'midtown' project, Phase I.

Image by CBT Architects, Boston, Mass.

The ambitious project -- called "midtown" -- calls for three phases that could take as long as 10 years to complete. It envisions 675 market-rate apartments in four towers of about 15 stories each, 1,100 parking spaces in two garages and 93,000 square feet of retail space.

The first phase would consist of a 165-foot-tall residential tower and six-story parking garage.

David Hancock, principal at the Boston-based design firm CBT Architects, and Greg Shinberg, owner of the Portland-based Shinberg Consulting, presented the preliminary design for Phase 1 for the first time on Tuesday.

"It's really starting to gel," said Planning Board Chairwoman Carol Morrissette.

The design includes pre-cast concrete, glass and metal skins with red accents.

"It's modern industrial," Shinberg said of the design after the meeting.

CBT replaced another architectural firm, Perkins Eastman, due to differing artistic visions with Federated Cos., the Miami-based developer, Shinberg said.

The scale of the project has caused concern among some residents.

While planners were encouraged by the preliminary design, Alex Landry, a member of the Bayside Neighborhood Association, said it reminded him of a beach-front condo in Miami rather than a building that would fit into Portland's historic landscape.

"I was really looking forward to seeing some brick, but I didn't get it," said Landry, who was otherwise optimistic about the project because it promises to bring an influx of residences to the neighborhood.

Shinberg said the tower will be stepped back between the third and fifth floors so it is less imposing to pedestrians. He acknowledged that challenges remain -- such as addressing the tower's effect on wind and shadowing.

"I find this very encouraging," board member Bill Hall said. "You're headed down the right road."

Federated Cos. has 3.25 acres of city-owned land on Somerset Street under contract to buy for $2.3 million.

City and neighborhood officials have made a priority of redeveloping Bayside, a former industrial neighborhood next to Interstate 295 that has been home to rail yards, scrap yards and warehouses.

The first phase is projected to cost about $38 million. It would consist of 180 to 190 market-rate apartments, a six-level parking garage for 705 vehicles and more than 40,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space at the corner of Somerset and Pearl streets.

Shinberg said he expects to have another workshop with the Planning Board on Sept. 10. His goal is to receive board approvals by the end of October and begin construction shortly thereafter. "We'll try to shoot right ahead," he said.

Cumberland Ave. housing project wins approval

August 28, 2013 in Articles

Author: Randy Billings
Publication: Portland Press Herald

The Portland Planning Board acts over neighbors' objections to the development's limited parking.

PORTLAND – The Planning Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a 57-unit housing development on Cumberland Avenue that will mix market-rate and affordable units but provide only limited parking.

click image to enlarge

Digital renderings of 57-unit, mixed-income apartment complex proposed by Avesta Housing at 409 Cumberland Ave. in Portland.

click image to enlarge


The project, which will have just 18 parking spaces, was approved over the objection of nearby residents, who complained that finding parking is already difficult – especially in the winter.

Seth Parker, the director of real estate development with the nonprofit Avesta Housing, which is developing the project, said construction would likely begin in December and last about a year.

The $10.2 million project at 409 Cumberland Ave. would have 11 market-rate units and 46 affordable units in a five-story building.

Avesta hopes to secure additional financing for a roof-top greenhouse and raised garden beds, Parker said.

If that happens, it would be the first green roof in the city, according to planners.

"We haven't been able to find another one," said Caitlin Cameron, the city's urban designer.

The project was approved after a lengthy and at times contentious discussion about parking.

Many area residents, especially those living on Mechanic and Hanover streets, said 18 spaces are not enough, since parking is already a challenge in the neighborhood.

Others, however, noted the need for affordable housing -- especially as the city grapples with homelessness. They said the units would attract residents who preferred to walk, bike or use public transit.

Hanover Street resident Hilda Taylor acknowledged that the project was forward-thinking in that it plans on having mostly car-free residents.

"I think it's looking a little too forward to a reality that's not quite here yet," Taylor said. "People have cars."

Board members mostly agreed that parking was already an issue in the neighborhood, but disagreed whether it was an issue they had the authority to handle.

Board members roundly criticized the Payment in Lieu of Parking program, which allows developers to pay a one-time fee of $5,000 for every parking space required by the city code that it cannot provide. That money goes into a general transportation fund that can be used to improve parking, public transit and bike-pedestrian amenities, according to planning division director Alex Jaegerman.

Board members believe the $5,000 is too low, calling it a political number, not one based on reality, since the cost of building one structured parking spot is $25,000.

The city code requires one parking space be provided for each residential unit. However, other options have been added in recent years for housing developers in business zones. In addition to the Payment in Lieu of Parking program, one car-sharing space counts as eight parking spaces.

Avesta requested -- and the Planning Board granted -- permission to only provide 0.7 spaces per unit without penalty.

It intends to pay the city a fee for 15 parking spaces it will not provide on the site and employ the option of having a dedicated car-sharing space count for eight spaces. City staff counts the total number of spaces as being 40, even though only 18 spaces are actually being provided.

A spirited debate ensued about whether the board could generate more revenue to address parking issues in the neighborhood by denying Avesta's request to be responsible for just 40 parking spaces, rather than the 57 required by code.

Board member Jack Soley said that making Avesta responsible for all of the parking under city code would only amount to an additional $85,000, which was a fraction of the overall cost on the $10 million project.

However, board member Bill Hall said the applicant provided detailed information justifying the reduced parking requirement and staff had signed off on it.

The board ultimately rejected Soley's recommendation by a 6-2 vote.

Avesta plans to finance the project with a 20-year property tax reduction intended to promote affordable housing development; a federal low-income housing block grant through the city; and low-income housing tax credits through the Maine State Housing Authority.

Eleven units would be leased at market rates ranging from $825 to $1,400 per month, while 46 subsidized units would go for $669 to $1,030 per month for households with incomes ranging from $25,000 to $40,000.

Steve Hirshon, president of the Bayside Neighborhood Association, said Avesta should commit to the green roof design due to the level of public investment in the project.

Parker said the greenhouse and raised garden beds would cost an additional $450,000.

"We're still fully committed to figuring out how to make that work," he said.

The project would also include a community kitchen for public cooking classes on the first floor, as well as additional classroom and office space.

Two blocks of Portland’s Old Port to go up for auction in September

August 26, 2013 in Articles

Author: Whit Richardson
Publication: Bangor Daily News

PORTLAND, Maine — A valuable piece of real estate in the heart of Portland’s Old Port is going on the auction block next month, putting in play a stretch of buildings known for its nightclubs and bars.

The six century-old buildings are situated on two blocks on Fore and Wharf streets. Businesses currently calling the properties home include Fore Play, a sports bar; The Blazin’ Ace, a shop that sells glass pipes; Gorgeous Gelato; Pearl Lounge, another bar; and restaurants on Wharf Street such as Buck’s Naked BBQ, The Merry Table and 51 Wharf Restaurant.

The buildings — at 432, 434, 436 and 446 Fore St., and 42 and 50 Wharf St. — contain roughly 49,567 square feet of leasable space, according to Cardente Real Estate, the local broker marketing the properties.

The owner of the properties is BACM 2007-3 Wharf Street LLC, an investment bank that purchased them at a foreclosure auction in 2011 for $5.9 million, according to media reports. The properties have a total current assessed value of nearly $4.4 million, according to Portland’s tax assessor database.

“This is an extremely rare opportunity to buy some of the best positioned commercial real estate Portland has to offer,” Michael Cardente, a broker and partner at Cardente Real Estate, said in a statement. “Since their construction, these buildings have played a major role in defining the Old Port, an area that has national recognition for its restaurants and boutiques.”

The real estate is well positioned, but it hasn’t necessarily played an important part in defining the Old Port, according to Tim Soley, president of East Brown Cow Management Inc., the Portland developer building the Hyatt Place hotel on Fore Street, right across the street from these properties.

“The opportunity is to improve those buildings and have quality tenants and quality space, which they haven’t had the opportunity to display over the last generation,” Soley told the Bangor Daily News on Friday. He added that a new owner is “naturally going to be moving toward more productive tenants.”

However, given his ongoing projects, Soley said he’s unlikely to bid on the properties himself.

“As an Old Port developer and a member of the Portland community, I’m very excited and hopefully someone has a vision to improve them,” Soley said.

One of the likely bidders will J.B. Brown & Sons, the Portland real estate developer building the new Courtyard by Marriott hotel on nearby Commercial Street. J.B. Brown & Sons was involved in the 2011 auction, and will likely bid on them again, according to CEO Vin Veroneau.

“We’re evaluating the properties again,” Veroneau told the Bangor Daily News. “We’ll tour them, and will likely participate in the bidding.”

The problem with the buildings, however, is that they’ve been owned by absentee landlords for so long that the deferred maintenance costs are likely significant, Veroneau said.

“The current uses of the properties are incredibly hard on the buildings and infrastructure, so you need to buy them at a price where you can make significant investments to upgrade the quality of the properties,” he said. “These types of properties need local ownership and investment and care. Real estate by nature is a depreciating asset, so you have to spend money to keep it relevant.”

Cardente on Friday said the sale has already received a significant amount of interest.

“We’ve had people fly in from different parts of the country to view the property,” Cardente told the BDN, adding that the interest is about 50-50 between local and out-of-state parties. “I think the word is catching that Portland is a good place to invest.”

The properties will be sold in an online auction beginning Sept. 23, and ending two days later. The opening bid will be $2 million, Cardente said.

Old Port Portfolio Going to Auction

August 23, 2013 in Articles

Author: Staff

Cardente Real Estate is handling the local marketing of the Old Port Portfolio that is going up for online auction on September 23, 2013. This investment package consists of six buildings situated on two blocks totaling 49,567 +/- of leasable square footage.  Four of the buildings are contiguous and offer retail frontage on Fore Street, Union Street, and Wharf Street. The other two buildings are accessed by Wharf Street and Union Street.  The commercial portfolio includes a healthy tenant mix of restaurants, retail, and, residential. Current retail tenants include Buck's Naked BBQ, Oasis, Fore Play, Gorgeous Gelato, Pearl Lounge, Merry Table, Ollo Salon, Blazin Ace, 51 Wharf Restaurant, and Shine Salon. "This is an extremely rare opportunity to buy some of the best positioned commercial real estate Portland has to offer."said Michael Cardente, Broker/Partner at Cardente Real Estate and the one responsible for obtaining the local marketing of the portfolio. "Since their construction, these buildings have played a a major role in defining the Old Port; an area that has national recognition for it's restaurants and boutiques." The offering is located across the street from the Portland Harbor Hotel and the brand new Hyatt (currently under construction). Development and the redevelopment of commercial properties located on Portland's Peninsula has been ongoing and this package is positioned right in the middle of it all.  The general marketing of this investment package is a joint effort between Cassidy Turley and Cardente Real Estate. The Old Port Portfolio will be auctioned online, in its entirety, at www.auction.com starting September 23rd, 2013 and ending on September 25th, 2013. Cardente Real Estate will be providing tours of the buildings from 9 AM to 12 PM on September 6, 2013 and on September 16, 2013. To sign up for one of the property tour dates or to receive a general marketing brochure, please contact Cardente Real Estate at 207-775-7363.  Prospective buyers can also sign in onsite at the Cardente Real Estate table that will be located on Wharf Street. For information relating to the financials of the properties and to bid, interested parties must register online at www.auction.com.



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 auction.com. Cardente will provide tours of the properties from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 6 and 25.




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