Pungent but perceptive observation about Portland, ME

commercial real estate development Portland Maine

Press Herald reporter Tom Bell joked that anti-growth forces are on the lookout for editorial writer Greg Kesich.

On a recent Facebook post, Portland Press Herald reporter Tom Bell wrote an amusing faux headline, after his paper’s editor wrote a column about growth in the city of Portland, Maine.

“Liberal editorial writer goes into hiding after pro-growth screed offends everyone but Ed Suslovic.”

Suslovic is a city councilor, of course. And while Bell was exaggerating, he did manage to put his finger on, and amplify, the central point that editorial writer Greg Kesich wanted to make: “Not changing is not one of your choices.” Bell’s comment recognizes how emotional some factions are about growth. In fact, so strident are they that many do not want Portland to change or grow at all. They like things exactly the way they are, thank you very much; hence Bell’s “headline.”

The Kesich column, “Residents of Portland have to get past their aversion to growth” is right on the money, in our opinion. Kesich also made excellent points back in December, when he wrote, “Not building a city doesn’t just happen – you have to work at it.

When we go to work at Northland every day, we try to honor the essence of every municipality in which we work, and make it better. For example, we were able to do this this very successfully with our Sanford Mill project and The Baxter Library project in Portland. Those who are passionate about what is “right” for a city certainly deserve respect for their point of view. But so do those who agree with Kesich. Because no place on earth can ever be better without change.

City park fund gets major boost from developer

U.S. Senator Angus King celebrates the successful completion of the Sanford Mill project with Northland principals Josh Benthien, left, and Rex Bell.

U.S. Senator Angus King celebrates the successful completion of the Sanford Mill project with Northland principals Josh Benthien, left, and Rex Bell.

Sanford recognizes importance of downtown amenities

MEDIA CONTACT: Lee Burnett, grant writer, City of Sanford lburnett@sanfordmaine.org, 207-206-2106 (mobile)

SANFORD – The City of Sanford has received $10,000 from Northland Enterprises of Portland to assist the city with infrastructure and landscaping needs at a new city park.

“Gateway Park” will be an approximately 1-acre parcel that will allow citizens to enjoy an overlook and waterfall near Number One Pond and the Mousam River, at the corner of Riverside Avenue and Washington Street.

The city now has $20,000 in hand and needs to raise another $30,000 to complete work on the park, according to Lee Burnett, the city’s grant writer. Burnett is optimistic that the balance of required funding can be raised by the spring or summer of 2015.

The privately-funded park amenities supplement the city’s contributions, which include acquiring two properties, demolishing two buildings and investing in the park’s infrastructure.

Northland (www.NorthlandUS.com) proposed the donation to Sanford as part of the $12 million renovation of the Sanford Mill (www.SanfordMill.com), a mixed use development that includes both residential units, as well as office and retail space. Northland and the city completed environmental clean-up at the former textile mill in 2009, followed by construction that finished in June of 2013. The project was ready for occupancy in the summer of 2013. Burnett said Northland’s financial commitment to Gateway Park “made a big difference” in Sanford’s ability to secure a federal Community Development Block Grant from the Maine Office of Community Development.

“We’re really appreciate Northland’s support this community project,” Burnett said. “When we finish raising the balance of the money, we can begin working on the landscaping, planters, walkways, lighting and perhaps even a stage area for performances. I think the park is going to contribute very significantly to quality of life in downtown Sanford, and increase overall vitality in the heart of town.”

Burnett said “Gateway Park” could be a temporary placeholder, and that naming rights are still available. He encouraged anyone who would like to help the city reach its $50,000 fundraising goal to contact him by e-mail at lburnett@sanfordmaine.org, or by phone at 207-608-4171. Donations are tax-deductible.


The lighter side of commercial real estate development in Portland, ME

Greg Kesich is the editorial writer at the Portland Press Herald

Greg Kesich made us laugh with a recent column he wrote for the Portland Press Herald.

Usually commercial real estate is a pretty straightforward business, but sometimes we do get a good chuckle along the way. Like when we read this recent column by columnist Greg Kesich at the Portland Press Herald.

As developers of some of the finest commercial real estate projects in Maine and beyond, Northland Enterprises brings an extraordinarily high level of professionalism and competence to all our work, from concept and design all the way through to execution and completion. Representative projects include the redevelopment of the Baxter Library in Portland, our Sanford Mill restoration, and the re-purposing of the former Kennebec Journal building in Augusta. In each and every case, part of the job is attending many meetings; meeting of select boards, planning boards, city councils, town councils, zoning boards and public hearings. That’s why this Kesich’s column caught our eye. With tongue firmly in cheek, he very effectively captured the many hurdles that confront even the most routine and straightforward commercial real estate project.

He was only writing about Portland, Maine, but the phenomenon to which he refers is what we encounter in municipalities all across the Northeast. And while we think he made an humorous point, Northland actually values the governmental and regulatory processes into which we enter every time we build a project and contribute to economic development. Almost without exception, the process of oversight and review helps us build better projects — which is good for everyone.

How to Move up from 50th on Forbes List

Peter Van Allen’s piece from the most recent edition of Maine Biz articulates nicely why Maine doesn’t deserve it’s bottom dwelling position on Forbes magazine’s ranking of business friendly states. Northland partner Josh Benthien (a panelist at the recent MEREDA conference) aptly points out that in the commercial real estate sector, occupancy rates are high and do not suggest the kind of weak economy one might expect being ranked #50 in Forbes annual report. Couple that with the hard-working ethos of Maine workers and our vast natural resources and we might just have a winning formula for a brighter economic future. The entire article can be found at the below link.


Northland makes it to 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi!


Signe Jordan (above) holds Northland sign at 2014 Sochi Olympic games.

Congratulations to all USA Winter Olympians
who made it to Sochi! Northland is proud
to be a sponsor of the USA Ski
Jumping Team!






In Sanford, no-run-of-the-mill success

Officials celebrate a public-private effort that helped restore the historic Sanford Mill and attract tenants.

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Northland wins award for Sanford Mill renovation

Sanford News, Thursday, November 28, 2013

PORTLAND — At an event hosted by Maine Preservation, Northland Enterprises received its second statewide historic preservation award in three years for the successful, nationally recognized completion of its $11.5 million, 66,500-square-foot Sanford Mill development at 61 Washington Street in Sanford. Read More

A Mill and a Milestone City celebrates the grand opening of the Sanford Mill

Sanford News, Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ribbon cutting SANFORD — What a difference a few years can make when visionaries and doers work together to make things happen.

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A new life for an old mill

award_honor_journal_tributeSANFORD — Rex Bell held out a length of lumber. It is long-leaf, yellow pine, he said, milled from one of 100 old, wooden columns that once stood inside the Sanford Mill.

The mill had been empty and silent for a long time, until a year or so ago when workers began transforming the former industrial space into apartments with floor-to-ceiling windows, rosy, exposed brick, and character that comes with an eye toward history.

The columns weren’t needed, as there was no longer any heavy equipment on the floors, but the wood was too good to discard. So Bell and Josh Benthien, both of Northland Enterprises, LCC, owners of the mill, went looking for someone to mill it. They found Deadhead Lumber Company, headquartered in Scarborough, which transformed the lumber into flooring.

“We retained as much of the historic fabric of the building as possible,” said Bell.

The mill, built in 1915 to replace the old wooden Goodall mills, will serve their new purpose soon, as the goal is to have occupancy permits in hand by Aug. 15, said Benthien. After that, folks renting the 36 apartments and the two tenants signed up for commercial space will begin moving in.

Read Full Article at JournalTribune.com »

York County Planners Target Entrepreneurs

Redeveloping Downtowns

The fruits of that strategy will be on display this summer in downtown Sanford, a former mill town that has some 30 brownfield sites, according to EPA estimates. Much of the sprawling mill infrastructure found on the banks of the Mousam River has lain vacant since the mid-’50s. Since that time, several generations of Sanford residents have listened to plans to revitalize the mill district, but they’ve seen few results, says Josh Benthien, a developer with Northland Enterprises LLC. That’s left them skeptical, he says. Read More