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June 20, 2018

Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine puts its building on the market

Photo / Peter Van Allen NAI The Dunham Group has announced the listing of the Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine's building at 142 Free St. in Portland.

The Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine has officially put its property at 142 Free St. in Portland on the market, with an asking price of $3.4 million.

The listing with NAI The Dunham Group is the museum’s next big step in its plans to build and move into a new 30,000-square-foot facility at Thompson’s Point in Portland. Chris Craig is the Dunham Group broker handling the sale.

According to the Dunham Group’s marketing materials, the 19,158-square-foot mixed use building on 0.226 acres is zoned for mixed use and was renovated in 1993 when it was opened as the Children’s Museum of Maine. Located in the heart of Portland’s Arts District — with the Portland Museum of Art next door — the historic building was originally constructed as a theater in 1830 and six years later it became the Free Street Baptist Church.

In 1926, it was renovated by architect John Calvin Stevens and became the Portland Chamber of Commerce. It underwent another round of renovations before opening as the Children’s Museum of Maine in 1993.

The Dunham Group notes that the building features open concept floor plans and its zoning allows for a wide variety of uses, including office, residential, lodging, retail, restaurant and religious assembly.

It also was recently included as one of the 32 Opportunity Zones designated by the state and federal governments under a new economic development program established under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that provides a federal tax incentive for taxpayers who invest unrealized capital gains into funds dedicated to investments in the designated zones. 

Museum's planned move

Coutersy / Bruner/Cott & Associates
A rendering of the new Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine building planned for Thompson's Point.

In a deal that closed Dec. 22, 2012, the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine closed on its purchase of 1.12 acres at Thompson's Point from Forefront Partners LLP for an unspecified price. The transaction was arranged on behalf of the seller by Drew Sigfridson of CBRE | The Boulos Co.

In March, the organization’s Executive Director Suzanne Olson said the planned construction of a new 30,000-square-foot facility was expected to cost $14 million. 

With Bruner/Cott & Associates of Cambridge, Mass., as the architect, the new building will have three floors. The first floor will have a large lobby, climbing structure, and state-of-the-art theater space. The second floor will have exhibits focused around the community. The third floor will have exhibits focused on science, technology, education and math, including a 1,000-square-foot exhibit of Maine' watershed, with big touch tanks available throughout the day. The latter is the primary exhibit that won't fit in the existing facility, where the museum has been offering smaller tide pool touch tanks available a couple of times a day.

The new building will be modern with lots of glass, an exterior that will feature interesting metal patterns with color variations, steel framing and high ceilings up to 15 feet in most spaces. The extra acreage will provide space for outdoor exhibits and community spaces.

The organization, which is in the midst of a fund-raising effort, said its market research indicated the new facility is likely to double attendance from the 115,0000 visitors per year the Free Street facility has supported in recent years. The museum current employs 20 staffers and has another 50 volunteers.

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