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February 12, 2017 | last updated February 13, 2017 1:05 pm

With industrial space at a premium, developer plans to build warehouses in South Portland

Image courtesy Danielle Lape
Image courtesy Danielle Lape
A rendering of the three warehouses planned for construction at 2401 Broadway in South Portland.
Image courtesy Danielle Lape
An aerial view of the property at 2401 Broadway in South Portland on which Rob Plummer, owner of Plummer Properties LLC, plans to build three warehouses.

SOUTH PORTLAND — A 9.85-acre parcel that had been on the market for a decade will become the site of some 60,000 square feet of warehouse space.

Rob Plummer, founder and president of Eastern Excavation in Westbrook, purchased 2401 Broadway in South Portland for $1.275 million from 2401 Broadway Associates LLC. Danielle Lape from King Real Estate represented Plummer and Greg Hastings and Tom Dunham, from NAI The Dunham Group, represented the seller in the deal, which closed Dec. 21.

Plummer plans to build three flex-space warehouses primarily for light industrial companies, with a small office component. The warehouses will be 28,500, 25,500 and 6,000 square feet, with ceiling heights of 22 feet at the front and 21 feet at the rear.

The site is highly visible from Interstate 295 and is close to Interstate 95 and Route 1 as well as the Maine Mall and Jetport.

So far, Plummer has a prospective tenant for the smallest warehouse.

Identifying a need for industrial space

Plummer, who established Eastern Excavation in 1991, started out in landscaping and quickly advanced to site work with specialties in residential and commercial construction sites. Recent notable projects have included the South Portland Transfer Station and Swap Shop, 118 on Munjoy Hill, Press Hotel, Casco Bay Ferry Terminal and Great Diamond Island Transfer Station.

A decade ago, having identified a need for industrial-size warehouse space, he created Plummer Properties LLC to serve as his property management company. The company built two warehouses in Westbrook, one of 15,000 square feet and the other at 16,500 square feet. Even without advertising, it didn't take long to fill those spaces.

With 2401 Broadway, Plummer says he has a "fantastic location."

"This site truly has it all for warehouse users needing convenience of access, visibility and flexible floor plan options including mezzanine storage or office space," Lape added.

Lape said that, as a broker in the area for 20 years, she's seen a real demand for quality warehouse space.

"We expect demand will be high due to the location's close proximity to all major arteries, exposure from I-295 and ability to customize to tenant specifications — something hard to find in the current market," Lape said.

Maine's warehouse stock tends to be older, she said, making it difficult for potential users who need to customize their space.

"In an older building, retrofit costs can make it very difficult to accommodate a specific tenant's requirements," she said. "If you need an overhead door or a loading dock, for instance, it can be financially prohibitive due to the cost involved, whereas with new construction we can allow for those types of changes and build that cost into the lease."

The new buildings will be custom fit to individual tenant needs, she said.

Building out this much space can be a risky move, but it will almost certainly prove profitable, said Lape.

Lape said the new space is also expected to capitalize on the warehouse needs of out-of-state companies.

"There are several larger companies starting to gravitate toward Maine and many will have warehouse needs coming into the state," she said.

Construction to start soon

The property took a long time to sell largely because of the recession, Hastings wrote by email. "There was no demand for undeveloped land because new construction was dormant from 2008-16," he wrote. "We had the property under contract in 2008 for $1.5 million, but the recession killed that deal before it could close."

The changing regulatory environment is another reason for the long marketing period, he said.

"The property borders Red Brook, which is a stream that is on the [Environmental Protection Agency's] watch list," he noted.

Plummer said he plans to start construction within the next couple of months, with the smallest structure expected to be complete early summer and the others available by fall.

Including the purchase price, he expects his total investment in the project to be in the neighborhood of $3.5 million.

Born and raised in South Portland, Plummer said he feel personally invested in the success of the local economy.

"I'm dealing with a lot of people who I've known my whole life, especially in the city of South Portland," he said. "It's nice to work right here in these local communities."

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