UPDATE: commercial real estate, Portland, Maine

We are in front of the Planning Board tomorrow night, September 20th, a key milestone. We’ve worked with the City of Portland for three years now on the redevelopment of the old Elks building on outer Congress Street. This key gateway to the city — right outside the airport — will host new businesses, generate new tax revenue and help Portland make a good first impression on visitors. It will also keep many jobs here that would otherwise move outside the city. The planning process is almost finished, and construction should start in early 2017. In this video, Josh Benthien updates the taxpayers of Portland.

Northland working to ease Portland housing crunch

Portland, Maine has a new mayor, and in case you missed it, Mayor Ethan Strimling says he wants to permit 2,000 new housing units within the next 5 years. Wow — ambitious! A big part of the need, according to an excellent series recently published by the Portland Press Herald, is reasonably priced rental units. (See “Welcome to Portland — NO VACANCY.”)

Northland will soon be contributing to the mayor’s effort, in a building we will be re-developing at 443 Congress Street. We’ll be adding about 30 reasonably priced apartments to the city’s housing stock. Reporter Ed Murphy, as part of the Press Herald’s recent series, interviewed Northland partner Josh Benthien:

Developer who experienced housing problem now turning offices into apartments

Story by Edward D. Murphy/ Staff Writer

Josh Benthien knows the difficulty in finding housing in downtown Portland for middle-income earners, a lesson he learned first-hand even before the market overheated in recent years.

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 1.13.25 PMBenthien moved from New York City to Portland in 2006 and, after living in Manhattan, he wanted to find a place in a downtown setting. He went apartment-hunting on the peninsula, which turned into a longer and more difficult process than he had anticipated.

He found there was housing for low-income people, but he earned too much to qualify. And, of course, there would have been no problem finding a place if he made a lot more money.

“The pricing just felt like there was no in-between,” said Benthien, who is now a partner at Northland Enterprises, a Portland-based development company.

It’s a problem that has only grown since Benthien last went apartment-hunting. And he and others worry that it could stifle Portland’s economic development, making it harder for companies to attract new employees and keep the ones they have.

Benthien said his experience factored into Northland Enterprises’ recent decision to convert the upper floors of the Clapp Memorial Building, a 1920s-era, seven-story office tower diagonally across from Monument Square, into apartments. The space had been offices until this summer, when a major tenant decided to move in search of more room.

He said the units – mostly studios and one-bedroom apartments, but with a handful of two-bedroom apartments possible – will be “reasonably priced, market-rate apartments.” Studios and one-bedrooms will rent for about $1,200 a month, heat included.

A few years ago, Northland bought a building on Shepley Street, which is downtown and not far from the Maine College of Art. Some of the units were leased to MECA for student housing, Benthien said, but the rest were advertised online and quickly rented out. “People were clamoring to live there. So we knew that there was something in the market that wasn’t being met,” he said.

A waiting list has already been started for the Clapp building, where apartments are expected to be available sometime in 2016, he said.

Benthien said the company hopes to accomplish three things by converting office space to apartments: fill a need, make money and help bring more people downtown.

“It feels good for a couple of reasons,” he said, and “it really hit home for me. When I moved here I remember walking down Congress Street at times and saying, ‘Where is everybody?’ ”

Portland firm wins national award for enviro clean-up & redevelopment

commercial real estate Sanford Maine

Northland Enterprises won a Phoenix Award, along with the City of Sanford, for excellence in brownfield redevelopment.

(Portland, Maine) The redevelopment of an abandoned mill building in Sanford, Maine won national recognition in September, with a Phoenix Award going to Northland Enterprises of Portland for outstanding execution in cleaning up a former brownfield site and transforming it into a significant community asset.

Standing in for Northland Enterprises in Chicago were Sanford city manager Steve Buck, city planner Jim Gulnac and Jim Nimon, executive director of the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council. The awards ceremony was part of the National Brownfields Training Conference, sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and attracting government and business leaders throughout the nation. Northland’s work on the Sanford Mill was completed in August of 2013, and redevelopment from the beginning of the project was in close cooperation with city officials. Gulnac paid tribute to the public/private partnership with Northland.

“In the business of brownfield redevelopment, this is like winning the Oscar,” Gulnac said. “Northland’s participation far exceeded their huge financial contribution. They were patient and persistent, considering all the bureaucratic red tape, and they were ‘all in’ from the start of the project. This was a great partnership.”

The redevelopment of Sanford Mill took seven years from start to finish, according to Josh Benthien, a partner at Northland Enterprises. Located at 61 Washington Street, Sanford Mill is a mixed-use development that includes both residential units, as well as office and retail space. It’s part of the Sanford Mill Historic District, and is the nearest mill building to the center of the city’s downtown. Benthien said that of the $12 million invested in the project, nearly $11 million went to Maine-based contractors and companies. Benthien and business partner Rex Bell commented on the Sanford Mill project in a YouTube video published earlier this summer.

Northland Enterprises also contributed $10,000 earlier this year to help with infrastructure and landscaping needs at Gateway Park. The park is an approximately 1-acre parcel that allows citizens to enjoy an overlook and waterfall near Number One Pond and the Mousam River, at the corner of Riverside Avenue and Washington Street.

Northland hires Conor Beliveau

Northland Development hires Conor Beliveau

Conor Beliveau, our new Development Officer, is a great addition to the Northland team!

(Portland, Maine) Conor Beliveau has joined Northland Enterprises as a Development Officer.

Beliveau joins the Northland team having previously worked as the marketing director at a commercial mill property in southern Maine. He is a licensed real estate broker. At Northland, Beliveau will participate deal structuring and underwriting, acquisitions, marketing, and tenant relations.

A Maine native, Beliveau has also worked as a commercial fisherman and an organic farmer. He is an avid athlete and outdoorsman who enjoys telemark skiing, surfing, tennis, ultimate Frisbee and other pursuits.

Bayside re-development continues

Commercial real estate development Portland Maine

Article about the redevelopment of Portland’s Bayside neighborhood. Reported by The Forecaster

By David Harry, The Forecaster, Monday, May 4, 2015 at 2:20 pm

PORTLAND — A developer expects the former Century Tire service center at 45 Marginal Way to be flattened within the next two weeks.

“Our demo guys are ready to roll,” Northland Enterprises principal Josh Benthien said May 1, two days after the announcement his company bought the property and three adjacent parcels on Marginal Way and Kennebec Street.

To read full article in The Forecaster, CLICK THIS LINK.

MAINEBIZ: Developer buys four buildings for Portland’s ‘Century Plaza’ retail project

CLICK ON IMAGE to read the full article by Mainebiz reporter Lori Valigra.

CLICK ON IMAGE to read the full article by Mainebiz reporter Lori Valigra.

(Portland, Maine) Commercial real estate development company Northland Enterprises LLC of Portland said it has bought four properties on Marginal Way and Kennebec Street to make way for a retail mall it has renamed Century Plaza.

Northland bought 45 Marginal Way, a site occupied for 88 years by Century Tire Co. before it closed in February 2014. It also purchased 1 Marginal Way, 200 Kennebec St. and 202 Kennebec St. The total cost to buy the properties and the price to redevelop them will be (CLICK HERE for full MAINEBIZ article.)

AUGUSTA: Developer hopes for “quality restaurant”

Commercial real estate developer in Augusta, Maine hoping to lure restaurant to Journal Square

Northland Enterprises is hoping to lure a nice restaurant to Journal Square on Western Avenue.

(Augusta, Maine) Northland Enterprises, a commercial real estate development company based in Portland, reported today that although redevelopment of the former Kennebec Journal site is almost finished, the firm is hoping it can lure a locally-owned restaurant to the prime Western Avenue location, now called Journal Square.

“We’ve already turned down a national fast-food chain that wanted to grab the spot, because we heard folks would like to see a good dining option,” said Rex Bell, a founder and partner at Northland. “We’re holding out a little longer for a great restaurant concept because of feedback from the Augusta community. Maybe there’s a Maine chef out there who’s ready to make a splash.”

Northland acquired the former Kennebec Journal property in 2011. Today Journal Square leases space to a Goodwill store, a Men’s Warehouse, a Supercuts, a US Cellular retail store, and the regional headquarters for Bangor Savings Bank. Construction is now under way for a stand-alone Starbucks, which is expected to open this summer. Northland said the space, at 2,425 square feet, was specifically designed for a food user, and is the only lease opportunity remaining. It is centrally located in the project, between Supercuts and US Cellular. It has an outdoor patio, facing Western Avenue. Bell said anyone interested in leasing it should contact Conor Beliveau, via e-mail, at conor@northlandus.com, or Joe Porta of CBRE the Boulos Company at jporta@boulos.com.

Northland Enterprises has been managing and re-developing commercial real estate since 2001, in Maine communities and several others in the northeast Unites States. It is based in Portland, Maine. For more information visit www.NorthlandUS.com.

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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.

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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.

http://www.mainebiz.biz/article/20140602/CURRENTEDITION/305299999