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Updated: June 3, 2020

Insider Notebook: Navatek's Commercial Street lease first step in Portland marine complex

Courtesy / The Boulos Co. Marine engineering company Navatek has leased space at 100 West Commercial St. in Portland, part of a three-phase plan that will ulimately include 25,000 square feet.

Navatek, a marine systems engineering firm, has started a three-phase expansion by moving into 4,800 square feet of new laboratory and shop space on the first floor of Building D at the Portland Co. Marine Complex, at 100 West Commercial St., Portland.

It's also the first step in what property owner Phin Sprague envisions as a 21st-century working waterfront that will provide sustainable, quality employment for professionals and highly skilled tradesmen, he said in a news release.

In September, Navatek will take over 7,560 square feet of office space on the second and third floors of Building D. And plans are underway to construct an additional 15,000 square feet of office space that will be ready for occupancy in September 2021. The company, which has a partnership with the University of Maine, also late last year leased 6,424 square feet at 80 Exchange St., in Bangor.

The deal, with is for 27,760 square feet total, is being facilitated by Tony McDonald, of The Boulos Co., representing property owner Sprague, and Justin Lamontagne, of NAI The Dunham Group, representing Navatek. 

“We may be in the midst of a pandemic, but there are good things happening too,” said McDonald. “We’re getting deals done, and Portland’s western waterfront remains a great opportunity for the right business. We all hope to see this kind of exciting growth continue.”

Sprague said, “I’m hoping we can create a concentration of marine retail businesses around anchors like Navatek, Eimskip, and other businesses that can leverage the unique value of the Portland waterfront."

He said Navatek is the perfect fit for The Portland Co. Marine Complex, which has the marine industrial infrastructure — the ability to launch, haul, and service the watercraft Navatek engineers work with, along with high-level fabrication capabilities to support their efforts. 

Navatek, which also has offices in Hawaii and Rhode Island, last summer was awarded an $8 million Navy contract last fall to improve the design and construction of small watercraft that can operate safely at high speed in rough seas. The three-year project involves collaboration with Front Street Shipyard of Belfast, which will build the test hulls and collaborate on at-sea testing, and the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center .

“The opening of the new Portland office at 100 West Commercial allows Navatek to continue its growth and have access to Portland’s waterfront,” said David King, senior vice president. “This will enhance our partnership with the University of Maine and with the state’s boat building supply chain.”

King said the company plans to increase it's staff to more than 60 this year, with room to grow to 120 in the new space.

The Boulos Co. has been partnering with Sprague on his vision for more than a decade, the release said. He owns Portland Yacht Services at the site.

“Boulos is helping drive a robust economy around the port of Portland,” Sprague said. “Tony McDonald has been an important part of our success, supporting our greater vision for the waterfront and an ocean economy. His knowledge of the industry, engineering background, and ability to get things done has been essential.”

Smart Growth Award Nominations open

Nominations opened Monday for GrowSmart Maine’s third annual statewide Smart Growth Awards competition, with a new focus on responding to the COVID-19 crisis and collaborating regionally.

The awards recognize diverse activities that contribute to smart growth and also serve as real-life illustrations of the benefits it can bring. Smart growth designs are ones that help communities welcome — and manage — growth while maintaining their historic feel and natural beauty.

Winners in the competition showcase practical solutions to such challenges as the need for affordable housing, rebuilding downtowns and conserving land for public use.

This year, the judges also will look at whether nominees demonstrate excellence in regional collaboration, which is the theme of this year's annual summit, as well as COVID-19 response.

Projects that don't have those elements won't be penalized, but "given the current relevancy of these topics, and depending on the responses received, judges may opt to create an additional awards category in either or both of these categories," the nomination form says.

Established categories are: Project, developments that embrace smart growth elements; Plan, a public or private plan that embodies the principles; Public Policy, an adopted one that supports smart growth; and Person, someone who demonstrates commitment to smart growth.

The awards will be presented on Oct. 22 at the annual Smart Growth Summit, which this year will be at Pepperell Mill in Biddeford, the same site as last year's, but with limit in-person attendance and most of the attendance through teleconference.

“The great success of the first two years of the awards program has been really exciting and we look forward to continuing the tradition in 2020,” said Ethan Boxer-Macomber, board chair of GrowSmart Maine, in a news release announcing nominations. “Showcasing and celebrating fantastic smart growth-oriented projects, plans and people across Maine provides us with tangible and highly inspirational examples of the many community, environmental and economic benefits of smart growth.”

Criteria considered by the judges are:

  • Mixed use, compact design and placemaking: Supports optimal use of limited downtown or village center land through mixing uses, compact building design or context-sensitive density; optimal use of existing public infrastructure; contributes to a community-valued built environment, whether in contemporary or historic contexts or through excellence in architecture and site design.
  • Housing opportunity and choice: Contributes to increasing housing options for persons of all ages, family and socio-economic status, including those with disabilities.
  • Transportation choice and walkable communities: Contributes to creating/enhancing walkable communities or reducing auto dependency by supporting access to other transportation options such as ride share, transit or bicycling.
  • Preservation of open space: Reduces development pressure on open spaces such as agricultural, recreational, forested and/or environmentally sensitive lands.
  • Transformation: Is transformational to the understanding and successful implementation of smart growth principles, has it shaped people’s perceptions or changed the dynamics of the neighborhood, has encouraged open and balanced discussion on changing community needs while also helping community members to build confidence in their ability to successfully interact with each other and local and state government.
  • Climate change: Support Maine’s need to adapt to a changing climate.

Last year, winners included a variety of different types of projects: the Northern Forest Center's Millinocket Housing Initiative; the Bethel Community Forest and Mahoosuc Pathways project; the design of Parris Terraces in Portland by Kaplan Thompson Architects; and the Charter Oaks Village Cooperative in Arundel and Biddeford. Delilah Poupore, executive director of downtown group Heart of Biddeford, was recognized for Demonstrable Commitment to Smart Growth.

Judges for the 2020 awards are Maureen Drouin, executive director of Maine Conservation; Paul Schumacher, of the Southern Maine Planning & Development Commission; Gwen Hilton, of the Maine Land Use Planning Commission; and Chuck Lawton, a retired economist.

The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, June 26. For an application and more information, visit

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