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Updated: November 20, 2023

Buyer of former Botto's Bakery site firms up plans for retail use

rendering of long low building Courtesy / Maine Realty Advisors, Maugel DeStefano Architects The buyer saw an opportunity to transition 550 Washington Ave. in Portland as a “community retail center” with a modern look in a high-traffic area.

Southern Maine real estate investor Jim Henry is firming up plans for the redevelopment of the former Botto’s Bakery, at 550 Washington Ave. in Portland.

Henry bought the 9,045-square-foot building for $980,000, down from the list price of $1.2 million.

Craig Young and Sasha Phillips of the Boulos Co. represented Botto’s, Josh Soley of MRA represented the buyer.

Botto's moved to 5 Karen Drive in Westbrook after 70 years on Washington Avenue.

Henry and his wife Rebecca started Remington Street Properties after careers in software technology in Boston. Their real estate investments have spanned Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. 

Their focus initially was on the Portland multifamily market. In recent years, they expanded to the office and industrial sector and also expanded geographically, with various sales and acquisitions in Augusta, Lewiston, Belfast, Waterville, Sanford, Ellsworth and York.

Henry told Mainebiz that Soley pitched 550 Washington Ave., off the Portland peninsula and largely surrounded by multifamily homes, as a promising investment.

red and white building with window and cars
After 70 years 550 Washington Ave., Botto’s Bakery sold the building a moved to 5 Karen Drive in Westbrook Avenue.

The two often work together to identify investment opportunities and Soley is helping Henry develop a plan for 550 Washington Ave. 

“I had been kind of moving away from Portland,” Henry said. “I had great success in the midcoast and other areas. Josh came to me and said, ‘I have this opportunity in Portland but we have to have a vision for it.’”

Soley told Mainebiz he saw an opportunity to redevelop the industrial building as a “community retail center” with a modern look in a high-traffic area.

The property has excellent frontage on Washington Avenue, with traffic counts over 26,190 vehicles per day, according to listing information.

It has seven parking spaces.

The plan

Soley’s firm, Maine Realty Advisors, is the property and construction manager and leasing agent for the project.

“He and his team will execute on the vision,” said Henry.

To develop a plan, Henry hired Maugel DeStefano Architects, which is based in Harvard, Mass., and has an office in Portsmouth, N.H..

The layout, as it stands now, includes three suites, each 2,000 to 3,000 square feet.

The building dates back nearly a century.

Converting the industrial nature of the building for retail includes improving the façade and parking areas and modernizing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

The goal is to cater to starter and small community-oriented businesses. Soley said he’s shown the building to several potential tenants over the past month. Two retailers have put in offers.

About a third of the building is available to lease now. 

“Tenants could move in tomorrow,” said Soley.

The rest could be available by early next year, depending on permitting and renovations.

“We’re interested in signing up tenants to do customer build-out,” he said.

The project is an adaptive reuse of the existing building. While the budget for renovations isn’t firmed up yet, Henry estimated it could be at least a few hundred thousand dollars.

Financing for the purchase and renovations was facilitated by Eric Hansen, a senior vice president at Androscoggin Bank.

“I see this property as being a phenomenal marketplace,” said Soley. 

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