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October 11, 2019

Disabilities services provider sees growing demand, driving need for Lewiston facility

Courtesy / Google Earth Creative Work Systems bought a 5,500-square-foot office building at 430 Lisbon St. in Lewiston to accommodate growing demand for its services.

Creative Work Systems has purchased a 5,500-square-foot office building in Lewiston to accommodate growing demand for its services, which help people with disabilities to live and work in their communities.

Creative Work Systems bought 430 Lisbon St. from Seven Rivers Corp. for $350,000. Justin Lamontagne and Greg Hastings from NAI The Dunham Group and Tim Millett from The Boulos Co. brokered the sale, which closed July 30.

Millett, who represented the seller, said the building had been on the market for more than a year. The seller originally developed the facility for Good Shepherd Food Bank, he said. After the food bank left, it was occupied by Kaplan University.

“About two years ago, Kaplan University relinquished the space and it’s been vacant ever since then,” he said. “I’m a little surprised it took this long to find a buyer, especially because it’s in a good size range, at 5,500 square feet, it’s downtown, and it has 20 parking spots.”

Nevertheless, he added, the property saw strong interest. 

“I had probably eight to 10 showings,” Millett said. “But no one further advanced on the property until Creative Works.”

Lamontagne, who represented Creative Work Systems, said the structure and parking lot are in great shape. 

“It was well maintained,” he said. “It was not quite turnkey, but close to it.”

Creative Work Systems is a nationally accredited nonprofit organization that has been working with people with intellectual and physical disabilities in southern Maine for over 50 years, according to its website.

Through independent living support, residential services, brain injury support and innovative social enterprises, the organization works with hundreds of people each year.

In addition to its administrative office in Westbrook, the organization provides residential, employment and case management services at its facilities in South Portland, Saco, Auburn and Augusta.

Courtesy / Heidi Kirn Photography
Creative Work Systems has seen growing demand, particularly in Lewiston/Auburn, for its services to help people with disabilities live and work in their communities.

The Auburn facility serves Androscoggin, Sagadahoc, Kennebec, Franklin and Oxford counties, providing day services as well as residential, employment and case management services.

Demand at the Auburn facility has outpaced its capacity, said the organization’s chief operating officer, Matt Hickey.

“We have a strong presence in the Lewiston/Auburn area,” Hickey said. “We’re growing so much that we needed to expand.”

The organization searched for at least six months for additional quarters in Lewiston/Auburn, he said.

“The property on Lisbon Street fitted us perfectly,” he explained. 

Plans call for moving the administrative team from Auburn to the Lisbon Street building, which also provides training and meeting space. Being in a walkable downtown with attractive amenities is expected to be an extra perk for employees, he added. 

The Auburn location, at 29 Hampshire St., will continue to provide day, residential, employment and case management services.

Creative Works also operates seven group homes in Lewiston/Auburn. The organization serves over 100 people with disabilities in the region and a total of over 450 throughout Maine.

“Demand is growing all around but there’s tremendous need within Lewiston/Auburn for residential community support and case management,” Hickey said. 

Demand is such that there’s a waiting list for people who could use the organization’s services, he added.

The organization was founded in York County in 1967 and has grown its service offerings northward, especially over the last five years, Hickey said.

Rehabilitation of the Lisbon Street property is underway. The plan is to be operational by early December. The rehab is mostly cosmetic, including painting, putting up new walls to create office space, and adding windows. That investment is expected to be $50,000.

In the future, there’s a chance the organization will do some programming at the site, Hickey added.

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