September 19, 2018

Longtime Augusta state office space finds new tenant

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Photo / Maureen Milliken
290 State St. in Augusta, which since 2001 housed the state government's Central Printing Services, has found a new tenant.

AUGUSTA — As real estate brokers keep a wary eye on Augusta's slow and shifting office market, there are some small victories.

290 State St., a 9,000-square-foot former grocery store that did business as Central Printing Services for the state government for 16 years, is one of those.

The squat gray building, which sits back from the road next to the state Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, half a mile south of the State House, has been leased to Creative Work Systems, a Westbrook-based nonprofit living support program for people with disabilities.

The building since 2001 had housed the state's printing services, which were outsourced last year.

The building didn't draw a lot of interest when iti was first listed in 2016, but in the past year it gained traction, said Andrew Ingalls, the broker representing owners Warren and Nancy Sawyer.

"One of the things that was a factor was that most [potential tenants] couldn't lease the whole building," Ingalls said. He said subdividing it was an option, but given the layouth, would've been an expensive one.

Justin Lamontagne, of NAI The Dunham Group, representing the tenant, said they were looking for less space, but the price was right to lease the entire building.

"The building was significantly larger, but we were able to make the numbers work," he said.

State moving departments, employees

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Photo / Maureen Milliken
The 104,000-square-foot building on Capitol Street in Augusta is one of two being built on the old DOT site.

Augusta has 51 listed office spaces ranging from 1,000 square feet to 54,941 square feet, according to, which tracks real estate listings. The inventory is due to expand when the state moves the Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine Employees Retirement System into two buildings, totalling 130,000 square feet, that are being built at the former site of the Department of Transportation garage on Capitol Street.

The 500 people who will work there will come from five buildings around the city, four of which are state-owned, and one that's leased. .

The state has also outsourced some services, eliminating the need for space, which is why print services vacated 290 State St.

"There's an abundance of office space in Augusta," said Hoa Hoang, of Hoang Realty in Augusta. "It's a great opportunity to get it at low cost."

Lamontagne and Ingalls, who both work more in the Portland market, said that Augusta has inventory, but isn't a place southern Maine clients consider.

Hoang, whose office in on Western Avenue, in the center of the city, points out the Capital City has advantages those in southern Maine may not fully consider.

It's less than an hour from Portland, with three exits off Interstate 95. The downtown is also getting new life, with 12 businesses opening in the past two years and more than 40 units of market rate apartments occupied or planned.

In north Augusta, several multi-family complexes are planned, include one for 250 units.

"It's a city with really nice people who want to work hard," she said. "There's an available workforce."

Good building, good location

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Photo / Maureen Milliken
290 State St., Augusta, at the back of a large parking lot, was built as a supermarket and was once a movie theater.

Ingalls is focused on the Portland-area market — he points out, for instance, a just-listed block of office space on Washington Street in Portland is getting intense action.

But he's also represented the owners of 290 State St. for years.

The building was a Sampson's supermarket when it was built in 1967, and in the late 1970s was a three-screen movie theater and an arcade for a time, before Ingalls represented the owners.

In 2001, he brokered the deal for the state printing office, and the walls that had separated the three theaters were taken down. The state Bureau of Motor Vehicles also occupied some of the space for a while.

The print shops lease expired in 2016, but it was extended to March 2017, when the state outsourced its printing services.

Ingalls said that the type of business going into the building would have to be a "destination location," because of its low visibility and the nature of the surrounding State Street businesses — other state offices, car dealerships and fast food.

But the building "has great bones," a lot of parking and easily accessible, both Ingalls and Lamontagne said.

""It's flexible, you can have offices, [production space], all sorts of things, all under one roof," he said.

Hoang, the Augusta agent, said the fact the city has a lot of similar available buildings is a positive, not a negative.

"There are a lot of opportunities, if [a business] wants to be part of the city's growth," she said.


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