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.

Use of park signals completion of Sanford Mill project

Public using Gateway Park, symbol of collaboration between developer & city

(Sanford, Maine) Developers Josh Benthien and Rex Bell issued a video news release yesterday, marking official completion of the Sanford Mill redevelopment project.

They also revealed that the downtown redevelopment project enabling the construction of newly-opened Gateway Park is contending for a national award, recognizing the significant environmental clean-up completed at a former industrial mill. (CLICK HERE for link to video press release from Josh Benthien and Rex Bell, partners at Northland Enterprises.)

The redevelopment of Sanford Mill took seven years from start to finish, according Benthien. 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.

As part of the redevelopment, Northland Enterprises also contributed $10,000 earlier this year to help with infrastructure and landscaping needs at Gateway Park, which the Sanford News recently described as “evidence of a revitalizing downtown Sanford.” 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.

Bell gave high marks to Sanford’s economic development officials, calling them “innovative” and willing to explore “creative ways to make this project work.”

Northland Enterprises was founded in 2001. It is a commercial real estate development company that believes highest and best use of properties is good for communities, tenants and investors.

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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.