Developer completes lengthy $2M renovation of historic Congress Street building

May 3, 2016 in News

Author: Laurie SCHREIBER
Publication: Maine Biz

PORTLAND — In 2011, Freeport developer Kenn Guimond, who runs The Guimond Group, took on the renovation of a building of historical significance but in derelict condition.

Located in the Congress Street Historical District, which is also part of Portland's Arts District, the renovation of 660-662 Congress St. turned out to be much longer and more complicated than he anticipated.

"I was contacted by a local broker who thought it would be an interesting project for me — and believe me, it was interesting," he said. This was Guimond's first historical preservation project in a portfolio, spanning about 40 years, that includes mainly residential and commercial development in the Portland-to-Freeport region. "It's hard to make the dollars work, but the satisfaction is off the charts."

The building, finished in 1886, is known as the George S. Hunt block, named after a Portland businessman who owned the Forest City Sugar Refining Co. on Commercial Street in Portland, according to the Maine Historical Society. In the 1870s or so, according to Guimond, Hunt bought a derelict tenement building at the current site, had it razed, and hired Francis Fassett, a preeminent Portland architect of the time who worked in the Victorian High Gothic and Queen Anne styles. Fassett designed the current Queen Anne building, with features typical of the style that include brick-relief columns and pediments, a slate roof and bay windows. Hunt lived next-door to the building. Storefronts were added in 1912 and 1950. The building is also distinguished by its triangular shape.

The building was subsequently owned by a number of people, said Guimond. Its last commercial tenant, on the ground floor, was an antique store. Previously, Kenneth Aherne's Tailor Shop occupied the space. The upper two stories were always residences. Originally designed as one unit per floor, the residential space was divided several times into smaller spaces over a 30-to-40-year period.

After several years of vacancy, Roxanne Quimby, the philanthropist and Burt's Bees founder, bought the building in 2009. She planned an artist studio and gallery space, according to a 2011 Portland Press Herald story, but in 2010 the interior was severely damaged by fire. Quimby eventually put the building up for sale.

"So by the time it got to my sphere, it was damaged both by disrepair and by the fire," Guimond said.

Guimond hired Present Architecture of New York City to design and oversee the restoration. His son, Andre Guimond, is a principal in the firm, which got its start around the same time Kenn Guimond bought the building, making this one of the firm's first projects.

Due to unexpected structural problems, the expected 18-month project took four years.

"It wasn't until we got our engineer in the building that we found it in much greater disrepair than we thought, and it would take pretty much a complete restructuring of the interior," Kenn Guimond said.

Interior structural components failed to meet modern engineering codes, yet couldn't be stripped out wholesale or the building's brick shell could have been compromised. Instead, supporting structures such as beams and joists were replaced and surfaces releveled in a section-by-section surgical approach.

Since there are no images of the original interior, Present Architecture designed a contemporary look, with open spaces, white walls and ceilings and little trim. Removal of a roof-to-foundation chimney provided flexibility for the floor plan. Innovative lighting includes custom-designed skylights and LED fixtures tucked into ceiling coffers for a wash of soft illumination into living spaces. A shared stairwell features custom metal balusters and white oak treads. All systems were replaced.

The exterior was sound but needed work, including a new slate roof, new copper gutters, mortar replacement and new windows that honored the original design.

Renovation to the historic building had its challenge, said Andre Guimond. Non-historic downspouts had to be replaced. The team discovered roof-to-ground pockets, to accommodate historic downspouts, hidden inside the brick walls.

"It's not easy to do, because you're sluicing cold rain water through the inside of your walls," said Andre. "But we thought it would be great way to restore the building to its original look and clean up the façade, so we incorporated that."

They ran into other surprises. For example, a new water line for sprinkler systems had to cross Congress Street, which meant closing the street. The closure took longer than anticipated when street crews found, first, cobblestone paving down one layer, which had to be dug up. Then they found old trolley lines down a further layer, which had to be cut.

All together, 7,600 square feet now comprise one high-end apartment on each of the two upper floors, commercial space on the ground floor and a brick-and-stone space below the sidewalk level that could be useful for the commercial tenant.

The purchase price was in the mid-$200,000s, and renovation cost over $2 million. Guimond supplied 60% of the financing and received bank financing for the rest, with federal and state tax credits available for designated historic structures offsetting costs.

Guimond recently began marketing the spaces; the first residential tenant was slated to move in late April. Like the majority of other Guimond Group design and build projects, this will be kept in the portfolio.

"To us, it's a piece of history, not just another commercial project," said Kenn Guimond. "It means a lot to me. I've been in the business 40 years, and done all sorts of custom homes and office buildings. But this has been the hardest project I've ever done, because it was such a delicate process and we wanted to respect the integrity of the original design. We want to preserve this building in such a way that it should be here for another 140 years."

Four Communities Receive $15.2M for Wastewater

April 25, 2016 in News

Author: MaineBiz
Publication: MaineBiz

Four communities receive $15.2M for wastewater infrastructure upgrades

As part of the Friday's Earth Day festivities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that four Maine communities will receive $15.2 million for upgrades to their wastewater infrastructure, thanks to the USDA's Rural Development Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program.

The wastewater treatment facility in the town of East Millinocket was awarded $7.14 million in the form of a $3.5 million grant and a $3.65 million loan, will be awarded to the town's sewer district. It will be used to support improvements to the treatment facility by recycling infrastructure from the former East Millinocket paper mill and making significant upgrades to treatment equipment and processing capacity.

"This project is an important step forward in securing core community assets, enhancing the local economy, and protecting our natural resources," U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King said in a joint statement on Friday. "As we work together to address the significant challenges facing East Millinocket and the region, these investments from USDA Rural Development, coupled with local and state funding, strengthen the community and set the foundation for future economic development."

According to the release, the other Maine communities that were awarded funding for upgrades and improvements to their wastewater infrastructure are:

  • The Freeport Sewer District, which has been selected to receive a water and waste disposal direct loan in the amount of $2.1 million and grant in the amount of $1.1 million. Funds will be used to rehabilitate 11,000 linear feet of sewer lines, replacing key components of the Mast Landing and Porter Landing Pump Stations and the construction of a new pump station.


  • The Lincolnville Sewer District, which has been selected to receive a water and waste disposal direct loan of $1.6 million and grant of $1 million. Funds will be used to construct a new wastewater collection system and a new wastewater treatment facility in the beach area of Lincolnville.


  • The City of Old Town, which has been selected to receive a water and waste direct loan of $1.65 million and a grant of $550,000. Funds will be used to replace three of the city's aged wastewater pump stations. The city's wastewater system plays an important role in preserving the Penobscot River.

New 500,000 Square Foot Shopping Center Proposed for Westbrook

April 8, 2016 in News

Author: Mainebiz
Publication: Mainebiz

New 500,000-square-foot shopping center proposed for Westbrook

The Westbrook planning board is reviewing submitted plans for a new 500,000-square-foot shopping center that would be anchored by a 155,000-square-foot Wal-Mart.

Developer Jeffrey Gove plans to accent the retail experience by converting a quarry on the site into a lake that would be stocked with fish, open for wintertime ice skating and would link to the Portland area's trail system.

The proposed shopping center would be located on Westbrook's Main Street, across from Westbrook Crossing — another shopping center that is anchored by a Kohl's department store, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Other possible tenants for the Wal-Mart anchored shopping center include the supermarket chain Market Basket, outdoor retailer REI and the popular warehouse retailer Costco. Gove told the Press Herald that he expects other national retailers to make their official announcements in the next three months.

In addition to the retail locations, Gove added that there will be more than one restaurant as a tenant in the shopping plaza, and that he has been talking to a number of regional chains about locating within the shopping center.

Groundbreaking for the project is slated to begin this fall, with stores in the shopping center likely opening in 2017.

Currently, Maine is home to 25 Wal-Mart locations in addition to three Sam's Clubs. The big-box retailer employs 7,000 people across the state.

Multi-Use Five-Story Building Proposed for Gorham Center

April 4, 2016 in News

Author: Mainebiz
Publication: Mainebiz

Mixed-use five-story building proposed for Gorham’s town center

The skyline of Gorham could be in for a big change, as a local developer envisions a five-story, retail-and-residential site in Gorham Village, the town center.

The multi-story building being proposed by Gorham-based Great Falls Construction definitely falls into the "mixed-use" category — in addition to 30 market-rate apartments, the building would also house a bowling alley on the first floor and a wine bar on the top floor, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Though the addition of a bowling alley into downtown Gorham is sure to be welcome by students living in the dorms at the nearby University of Southern Maine campus, the idea of a five-story building being introduced into the mostly residential area is expected to gain a few detractors from neighbors.

"It's probably going to block somebody's view. It's probably going to cast a shadow over somebody's house," Tom Ellsworth, director of the Gorham Economic Development Corp., told the Press Herald. "The public can be very persuasive."

Ellsworth added that the positive reputation Great Falls Construction has within the town will likely quell some complaints, saying "the community is ecstatic" about a prior project in the heart of the town that replaced a vacant gas station with a Subway sandwich shop and Aroma Joe's Coffee shop.

"If there's anybody who is going to be able to make it work," Ellsworth told the Press Herald, it's Great Falls Construction.

If Great Falls Construction gets the green light for the project, the company said it hopes to be finished with construction by fall 2017.

Possible Propane Depot Move a Big Step for Thompson's Point

March 30, 2016 in News

Author: Mainebiz
Publication: Mainebiz

Possible propane depot move a big step for Thompson’s Point

Suburban Propane has filed plans to move from its Thompson's Point location in Portland to a city-owned parcel on Riverside Street — a move that has been deemed a key goal for developers of the peninsula.

Suburban Propane's move would ultimately free up a valuable rail-side parcel that developers are hopeful will be redeveloped into a new events center and an expanded transportation center meant to replace the Portland Transportation Center just north of the parcel, according to the Portland Press Herald.

In addition to the transportation center and events center, developers also hope to convert the land into a mixed-use neighborhood with residential housing, a hotel, restaurants and office buildings — a recent price tag for the ambitious project sets it at $100 million.

Suburban Propane's move, which has been discussed for several years, still must be approved by Portland's city Planning Board, but developer Chris Thompson told the Press Herald that the potential move could very well kick the development of Thompson's Point into high gear.

"We're pretty excited to have arrived at this point in the project overall," Thompson said. "We're probably still a few months out before we're able to see plans go forward for the event and athletic facility, but we're still planning on moving forward with it."




Join Our Mailing List

Contact Us


322 Fore Street, 3rd Floor
Portland,Maine 04101




207.773.0066 (fax)


Need a Broker?