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For a Biddeford investor, the market was right to exchange a multi-family portfolio he bought two years ago for two older downtown buildings that are poised to leverage the city’s development boom.
Joseph Fourré sold 3 Clifford St., 88 Cleaves St., 25 Hill Street, 90 Cleaves St., 12 Vine St., 20 Bacon St. and 125-131 Cleaves St. to AG207 LLC by 4A Property LLC for $3.4 million.
Brandon Mitchell of Malone Commercial Brokers and Tyler Fournier of Caldwell Banker Realty Saco brokered the transaction.
Fourré then bought 180 Main St ., 265 Main St. and a 31-car parking lot at 14 Jefferson St.
“At this point, it’s no secret that Biddeford has really come a long way,” said Fourré.
Originally from Cape Elizabeth, he spent 20 years in golf course design-and-maintenance in the Bahamas, California and elsewhere. Most recently, he served as superintendent at Dunegrass Golf Course in Old Orchard Beach.
In Cape Elizabeth, where he lives with his wife and their three children, he owns an irrigation and lawn care company there called Its Green.
He got involved in real estate investment by accident about five years ago. He and his wife were renting an apartment and the landlord offered to sell them the building. They picked up a couple more properties in South Portland, sold those, then started investing in Biddeford, attracted by the revitalization projects underway by the city and by private developers.
Fourré made his first investment in Biddeford with the purchase of the multi-families in 2019, for a total of $1.8 million.
Mitchell put together the package for him. Some of the properties were on the market while others were not listed for sale.
“All the buildings had great bones,” said Mitchell. “They just needed someone like Joe to get them cleaned up and brought back up to code.”
Fourré’s investment strategy centered on good-quality older properties that allowed for moderate renovations as tenants turned over.
That strategy played out.
“When we purchased them, there were issues across the board,” said Fourré. “They were all livable and decent but we improved them throughout that time.”
All of the buildings had code violations, so he tackled those first. During the winter, his team at Its Green performed improvements, such as new paints and floors, as apartments turned over.
The time was right to sell the portfolio, he said.
“It seemed like a great opportunity to leverage those properties,” he said. “And I wanted to start going more toward commercial downtown buildings.”
The portfolio went on the market April 1.
“We had a tremendous amount of interest and activity,” said Mitchell. “It hit the market on a Thursday or Friday, and by the next Monday or Tuesday we had our first showing.”
The package went under contract almost immediately and continued to generate queries until the sale finally closed.
“I’d get calls every week or so from someone asking about the portfolio,” said Mitchell.
To complete a 1031 exchange related to the sale of the multi-family package, Fourré bought 180 Main St., 265 Main St. and 14 Jefferson St.
He bought 180 Main St. for $1.25 million and 265 Main St. and 14 Jefferson St. for $2 million.
Mitchell and Roslind Anton of EXP Realty LLC brokered the transaction.
At 180 Main St., the two-story 12,648-square-foot structure, called Pepperell Hall, was built in 1877, according to the listing. It’s across the street from the Lincoln, a mixed-use redevelopment of the former Lincoln Mill.
A driving factor of the purchase was the foot traffic expected to come from Lincoln tenants, said Fourré.
“Timing is everything,” said Mitchell. “Three years ago, the Lincoln Mill was boarded up. Fast-forward three years and it’s getting close to completion. What a dramatic change that will be to that entire area. You look at 180 Main St. in a completely different light.”
The upstairs is fully leased. The ground floor, once taken up by offices, is vacant. Features include a 14-foot ceiling, original wooden post and beams, large windows and granite foundation blocks.
“It’s a typical, old, cool manufacturing warehouse space and it’s built like a tank,” said Mitchell.
The ground floor is being gutted and will be built out to suit one or more tenants, said Fourré. Barrett Made, an architecture and construction firm in Portland has taken on the project.
“We’ll willing to multi-tenant it or someone can take the whole space,” he said. “We’re targeting a grocer, retailer or restaurant.”
Fourré was interested in 265 Main St. several years ago, but the owner wasn’t interested in selling at the time. As the 180 Main St. deal unfolded, Mitchell successfully approached the owner again.
The 19,292-square-foot, 19th century building at 265 Main St. underwent a redesign by Caleb Johnson Studio in Portland about a decade ago. The design combined what was originally two separate storefronts, opening the space to function as a coffee shop, bar and bookstore, according to the studio’s website. Today, a café called Elements occupies one of the ground-floor storefronts. The rest of the space is also fully leased.
“That building shines,” said Fourré.
Small upgrades, such as adding more bathrooms, might be in the offing, he added.
“They are really cool buildings,” Fourré said of both acquisitions. “To me its seems like they’re not making those types of buildings anymore. And it was a good opportunity.”
Fourré worked with Bill Whitmore at cPort Credit Union to obtain financing for the purchases and improvements.
“They’ve been super-supportive,” he said.
He also credited Mitchell and Malone Commercial Brokers, Portland financial consultant Main Street Capital, Michael Peisner at Portland law firm Curtis Thaxter and broker Roslind Anton of EXP Realty LLC for keeping the deal on track.
“It took so many great folks to make this whole deal come together,” he said.
“This was one of my favorite deals to be part of,” said Mitchell. “And it was not easy. We ran into a lot of timelines to get the underwriting done and to get through the due diligence, especially with a package of seven properties. But it went well.”