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September 1, 2021

Ground broken on what will likely be Maine’s tallest building

Courtesy / Ryan Senatore Architecture A recent rendering shows the base of the planned 18-story apartment building at 201 Federal St., Portland. Construction has begun on the tower, which may be Maine's tallest when completed.

The building set to be Maine’s tallest, at 190 feet, has broken ground, and the first batch of subcontractors have been hired to tackle the $64 million project.

Construction of the building — known for now as 201 Federal Street — will create about 250 jobs throughout the two-year project. 

Filling those jobs will be a challenge, said Kevin French, chairman and CEO of Scarborough-based Landry/French Construction, which signed on as construction manager earlier this year.

“Everyone is facing a labor shortage. We’re all seeing it. It’s not going away. It adds time to everyone’s projects,” French told Mainebiz.

Landry/French selected its first round of subcontractors for the 18-story, 180,000-square-foot project. They include ChaseEx, a Falmouth excavating firm; Ranor Mechanical, which will handle plumbing and heating; Portland-based BH Milliken Inc. will handle electrical work; and Canam Structures, part of Canam Steel Corp, will handle structural steel work, French said. Additional contractors will be hired at a later time.

Material costs and procurement also are variables that will require close management.

“We don’t have a crystal ball. It’s very difficult,” French said. 

To make sure key supplies are on hand, Landry/French bought all the steel studs for the project at an early stage and will warehouse them until they are needed, French said.

“I’ve never heard of anyone doing that. We run the risk of material prices going down, but we also protect against prices going up. We’d rather have the materials in hand and maintain budgets and stop anything unknown,” said French, a 2021 Mainebiz Business Leader of the Year.

The building, which will feature 263 market-rate apartments, is being built to the edge of the property lines, which run against Federal and Temple Streets. The tight parameters mean Landry/French needs to work almost daily with the city of Portland to communicate about traffic patterns, safety, fencing and debris control.

The biggest potential disruption to neighbors and the public will be when Central Maine Power brings electricity lines down Federal Street and traffic will be reduced to one lane, he said. 

The firm has contacted all the neighboring properties for several blocks surrounding the site to keep them updated on the project, French said. 

“I am anticipating everything to be on time on budget,” French said. 

He said the project has an “escalation budget” in place if cost of material rises substantially. That excess money would then be tapped. French said he doesn’t anticipate using it and expects to return the excess funds to the building’s owner at the end of the project.

“I don’t see us using it. It’s a Plan B just in case,” French said.

The building will feature commercial space on the lower level, a 1,500-square-foot sky lounge on the top floor, a fitness room, shared lounge with co-working space, as well as a courtyard with benches, a waterfall and 16 new trees.

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