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 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



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."




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