Seaside Inns Find New Investors

February 21, 2017 in News

Publication: Mainebiz
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Growth spurs The Morrison Center's expansion in Wells

January 31, 2017 in News

Author: Laurie Schreiber
Publication: Mainebiz

Growth spurs The Morrison Center's expansion in Wells

Photo courtesy The Morrison Center
The Morrison Center, a nonprofit whose mission is to help people of all ages with disabilities, has purchased an office building at 2250 Post Road in Wells for $300,000 to facilitate its expansion.

WELLS — Demand for the services of The Morrison Center, a nonprofit whose mission is to help people of all ages with disabilities, has prompted the expansion of its facilities in Wells.

The Morrison Center purchased an office building at 2250 Post Road for $300,000 to facilitate its expansion. John Downing of The Downing Agency represented seller Douglas Merrill and Greg Perry of Cardente Real Estate represented The Morrison Center in a deal that closed Jan. 4.

"The community is wonderful," said Executive Director Mark Ryder. "We love being part of Wells."

The Morrison Center incorporated in the 1950s in Portland. The organization today operates three campuses — its headquarters in Scarborough, a smaller facility in Portland and its first facility in Wells, at 526 Post Road.

Rapid growth

Specializing in complex and involved developmental disabilities, the center's programming includes a preschool and childcare program, a K-12 special-purpose grade school, adult day community support programs, case management services for children and adults, and an integrated therapy clinic for all ages. Its support team includes educators, therapists, direct care professionals, and a full-time registered nurse. New this year, the center partnered with the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing on Falmouth's Mackworth Island to help advance educational services for the K-12 program there. Morrison also is in its second year of partnering with School Administrative District 55 to provide specialized preschooler services within South Hiram Elementary School.

Client numbers overall have tripled in the past five years, Ryder said. On the children's side, the organization had six K-12 students overall five years ago; today it serves over 30.

The adult side doubled in the past five years. Case management, a new program as of five years ago, now serves over 100 individuals. The organization also runs nine residential group homes, and there's a waiting list.

Increased clientele, said Ryder, reflects both increased need and the "build it and they will come" scenario — families with members previously in need simply didn't have a place to go for highly specialized services.

Four years ago, the organization decided to establish a facility in Wells and bought the 526 Post Road property — the former Mainiax restaurant — gutted it and reproduced a facility similar to Scarborough's, but on a smaller scale, for adult, pre-school and K-12 programs. That program filled up within a year.

Ryder and his board of directors decided to search for a second facility in Wells, a community that's proved supportive of the organization. The goal was to find a nearby property to relocate the adult program, thus also allowing the children's program to expand in the existing facility.

What the new expansion accomplishes

"That's where the 2550 Post Road building comes into play," Ryder said.

The 2,300-square-foot building, formerly a chiropractor's office, is just down the street from the existing facility.

The agency expects to invest about $200,000 in refitting the space. The exterior will remain the same. The interior will be gutted and reconfigured with small treatment rooms, a large activity space with a culinary corner (clients love to cook and it develops independent life skills), a therapy room with specialized equipment, and personal care space with mobility equipment used to support clients.

Work was expected to start mid-January. The goal is to be operational by March 15.

The staff will also grow, he said.

The agency currently employs about 250; about 20 of them are in Wells. The Wells expansion will result in more hiring, probably an initial six to 10, depending on how quickly space is filled.

For the future, said Ryder, "We hope to expand the Wells program even more — creating a state-of-the art school building as well as developing additional adult programming facilities. This is our first step in our Wells strategic expansion plan."

What makes the property perfect, Ryder said, is its location in the heart of town.

"Our folks can be in close proximity to what's happening, so we can integrate them into the community," he said.

The current Wells space serves approximately 20 adult clients and about 30 preschoolers. The new space will be able to serve between 40 and 50 adults. Capacity for preschoolers at the older Wells facility will become 55-60.

Mix of financing

As a 501c3 nonprofit, the purchase and rebuild are financed through existing capital funds, new lending, donations, and fundraising.

Two fundraisers were spearheaded by Morrison Center broker Perry. In fact, that's how Perry ended up working with the agency to find a property. Perry is on the board of directors of the Maine Commercial Association of Realtors, which does at least two volunteer events per year. In 2015, the MCAR board selected Morrison as a beneficiary. Perry, with the board's help, organized a golf tournament at Prout's Neck Golf Course as the fundraiser, which raised about $8,000. MCAR's second golf tournament fundraiser last fall for Morrison raised about $11,000.

"It's a really good place to contribute to," said Perry.

The Maine Commercial Association of Realtors board recently voted to stick with Morrison for its next event.

"We feel so fortunate to have their support," said Ryder.

MEREDA conference highlights 'worker gap'

January 20, 2017 in News

Author: Staff
Publication: Mainebiz

MEREDA conference highlights 'worker gap'

Cover of the latest MEREDA Index, a biannual economic indicator measuring the health of Maine's real estate sector.

​The Maine Real Estate and Development Association's bi-annual economic indicator measuring the health of Maine's real estate sector, The MEREDA Index, shows a significant "worker gap" that is driving up the cost and increasing the timeline of construction projects, according to a release about the index.

Unveiled at Thursday's sold-out annual MEREDA forecast conference, the index showed strong growth in the residential construction sector.

"Overall, The MEREDA Index has grown in the last years, though we are seeing the first plateau since the post-2007 recovery," Paul Peck, MEREDA president, a real estate developer and an attorney at Drummond & Drummond, said in a statement.​ ​"The second quarter of 2016 saw​ ​us reach the​ ​highest level ​in 10 years​, led by a 10% growth in the residential component."

All told, The MEREDA Index, which covers the middle two quarters of 2016, came in at 93​.

The second quarter of 2016 saw The MEREDA Index reach its highest level since 2006, led by a 10% growth in the residential component. But the second quarter's gains were not sustained into the third quarter, and at the end of the third quarter the index was just below its highest level since 2006.

The third quarter drop occurred primarily in the residential sector but also in the commercial sector. Over the past six months, the index grew 1.2% and over the year by 0.9%. Overall, the index indicates that recovery from the real estate recession continued, but slowed over the past year.

"​​The​ ​gains of the​ ​second quarter of 2016​ ​were not sustained into the third quarter, with a 4% drop relative the second quarter," said economist Charles Colgan of the University of Southern Maine, who compiled the report for MEREDA.​

Tackling the 'worker gap' ​

The lack of qualified candidates available to fill electrician, plumbing and other subcontractor positions that might be driving up the cost and increasing the timeline of construction has spurred MEREDA to launch a subcommittee with the Associated General Contractors of Maine to address the worker gap.

"The worker gap issue must be address if Maine is to benefit from continued economic investment, an expanded tax base in our neighborhoods and communities and a robust tourism economy," Peck said.

MEREDA's annual forecast conference featured more than half a dozen forecasts of future market activity by property type and geography, from top experts in the following categories: Maine's vacation and hospitality industry; southern Maine industrial, office, retail and residential; plus specific forecasts for the midcoast, Bangor area and central Maine markets respectively.

The new edition of The MEREDA Index was underwritten by Eaton Peabody, with support from CBRE | The Boulos Company, Wright-Ryan Construction and The Press Hotel.

Broad Street luxury apartment building fetches $3.12 million in sale

January 20, 2017 in News

Author: Nick Sambides Jr.
Publication: Bangor Daily News

BANGOR, Maine — A longtime Broad Street sporting goods store converted into luxury apartments has been sold to an out-of-state developer for $3.12 million.

The 18 luxury units at 28 Broad St. were sold by 28 Broad St. LLC to another limited liability corporation, New Hampshire-based Broad Street LLC, on Jan. 13, said Michael Cobb, a broker at Cardente Real Estate of Portland.

Friday’s closing capped 6½ months of negotiations, Cobb said Wednesday.

“It is an out-of-state investor who was interested. He liked the tenant mix and income ratios coming in from that. That’s where the number [sale price] comes from,” Cobb said. “On this type of property, in Bangor, I haven’t seen any other properties sell for this kind of price point.”

Former building owner Roy Hubbard said he and his partners were tempted to hang onto the building but the sale made sense.

“We certainly got a healthy per-unit price, which we are very happy about,” Hubbard said Wednesday. “I have mixed feelings about selling, but at the end of the day, I am not a landlord. I am a developer. My job is to bring something back to life. Then I find something else to bring back to life.”

The 27-year-old, who splits time between Connecticut and Maine, invested about $2 million and two years in renovations on the former Dakin Sporting Goods building. Hubbard bought the building for about $650,000. He opened three ground-floor apartments to public viewing in March 2016 during the Downtown Bangor Artwalk.

The building is currently fully occupied, and there is a tenant waiting list, according to Cardente Real Estate.

The site had been largely vacant since the late 1990s, when it briefly housed a coffee shop, cafe and TCBY yogurt shop. It also served as temporary headquarters for political campaigns.

Tanya Emery, the city’s director of community and economic development, said the sale price seemed about right.

“We knew it was for sale and it seems like a solid price for an exceptionally renovated building with strong occupancy numbers,” Emery said Wednesday.

Bangor is changing to accommodate people gravitating toward urban centers and a growing entertainment corridor, but still needs affordable rentals, officials said.

Hubbard is interested in continuing to rehabilitate buildings in Bangor, if he finds the right deal. Bangor’s market is growing, he said.

“It is scarce to find unused square footage downtown. When I got started, downtown the vacancy rates were incredible. It’s just not the case now,” Hubbard said. “I would be more inclined to do lower-rent apartments. I think with the higher-rent per-square-foot apartments, it’s hard to find space for that which could work. I think there is still a demand for that, but you need to get more people in there. It is easier for more developers to go lower-scale, to something more moderate.”

“I like Bangor,” Hubbard added. “It’s too expensive in Portland. Bangor is the only place I am really comfortable investing in. It is quieter and a lot more personal to me.”

Bangor Daily News writers Nick McCrea and Darren Fishell contributed to this report.

City of Portland prepares to put prime Bayside land on the market

November 14, 2016 in News

Author: Randy Billings
Publication: Portland Press Herald

Four acres of land with significant development potential near Portland’s downtown could be available for sale by the end of the year, according to the city’s economic development director.

Greg Mitchell said city officials will likely choose a real estate broker in the coming weeks for land used by the city’s Public Works Department in Bayside, launching a process that could alter the course of one of Portland’s long-struggling neighborhoods. The only restrictions placed on the sale would be the current zoning, Mitchell said, and the city is open to selling all of the land to one buyer, or selling it by the parcel.

Given the property’s location and zoning, which permits a wide range of uses, Mitchell expects that some sort of mixed-use development – including residential, office, retail and possibly a fitness center – could replace the current industrial-scale uses.

“I think this is an opportunity of a lifetime,” Mitchell said. “I think it would have a dramatic impact on spurring more investment in that area. Four acres is quite a piece of real estate in a downtown area. The redevelopment of that area could have a dramatic impact on setting a direction in an area.”

Moving Public Works out of Bayside has been a goal of the city since the 1990s. After toying with potentially moving the department out to Riverside Street, among other options, the city in 2013 began securing a 13-acre site at 212 and 250 Canco Road, an industrial area in the geographic center of the city.

Over the last year, the city focused more attention on the Bayside neighborhood, which is home to a multitude of social service groups, including the homeless shelters and soup kitchens. Last summer, the city directed more police attention to the area to deal with unruly behavior and made more of an effort to pick up litter, sweep the streets and rebuild sidewalks. It also has begun to rethink the way the city provides emergency food and shelter.

Given that the “midtown” project, including more than 400 apartments, has stalled and is possibly being revised again, residents in Bayside hope that the city’s effort to sell and redevelop the public works properties will go more smoothly, said Bayside Neighborhood Association President Steve Hirshon. He noted that after five years of planning for the midtown development, no shovel has hit the ground.

Hirshon suggested that residents are cautiously optimistic about the future.

“We understand there’s a lot of potential for development in the neighborhood, and obviously that’s exciting, but there’s the issue of: How do you maintain a neighborhood that managed to survive the fire of 1866?” Hirshon said, referring to the fire that destroyed a third of the city’s downtown area. “I think we’d like to maintain a semblance of what we have, and at the same time, welcome whatever new comes along.”

The estimated cost for relocating the Public Works Department is $15.5 million, with about $8.4 million already appropriated. On Monday, the City Council allocated $1 million from the recent sale of 3½ acres of land on Somerset Street to Federated Cos. for the midtown project toward upgrading facilities at Canco Road, leaving about $7 million in remaining costs.

Mitchell said most of the public works operations, except for its fleet services at 44 Hanover St., have been moved to Canco Road. Administrative offices at 55 Portland St. will remain for now, but that building may be put on the market at a later date.

Moving fleet services would require a new building at Canco Road, so that would not occur until funding is secured, either through a bond or using revenue from the sale of the land, or a combination.

The city expects to open bids from potential real estate brokers Tuesday, Mitchell said. “I would expect we would make decisions quickly in hiring a broker,” he said.

The city is looking to immediately list four properties and may list an additional three properties, all of which are scattered throughout the area generally bordered by Portland, Alder and Kennebec streets and Forest Avenue, according to a request for proposals for commercial real state brokers. The properties to be listed are 56 Parris St.; 82 Hanover St.-158 Kennebec St.; 65 Hanover St.-52 Alder St.; and 44 Hanover St.

The properties are split between two business zones, which in some cases allow for 105-foot-tall buildings. Two parcels – a nearly 1.3-acre site at 82 Hanover St. and a nearly 1-acre site at 44 Hanover St. – could potentially be combined, according to the RFP, which also contemplates extending Somerset Street to Hanover Street and realigning Kennebec Street to Forest Avenue. Other properties, namely 55 Portland St., 178 Kennebec St., and 181 Forest Ave., may also be put up for sale.

Mitchell said he suspects that existing brick buildings could be renovated and incorporated into any new development plan, while open lots and a metal shed at 44 Hanover St., which houses fleet services, could be remade from scratch.

Mitchell declined to say how much he believed the city could get for the property, other than to say it could be a “significant” amount.

He said the real estate market is strong, the property is close to downtown, and there is already development going on in Bayside, including the new Chipotle and Bangor Savings Bank locations on Marginal Way, the expansion of Bayside Bowl on Alder Street and the conversion of the Schlotterbeck & Foss building on Portland Street into market-rate housing consisting of a mix of 56 studio and one-bedroom apartments.

“I feel there is a very high level of interest,” Mitchell said. “We’re continuing to see development in Bayside and we’re in the center of that.”




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