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January 12, 2020

Investors in Lewiston’s tallest building attracted by price and potential

Courtesy / Maine Realty Advisors South Berwick real estate developers Jim and Rebecca Henry made their first entry into Lewiston with the purchase of the 145 Lisbon St., the downtown’s tallest building.

Downtown Lewiston’s tallest building, commonly called the Professional Building and dating back to 1915, will see exterior and interior renovations as space turns over.

RSP Lewiston LLC bought 145 Lisbon St., Lewiston, from Jeremy Chapman of Chapman Real Estate Development LLC for $505,000. RSP Lewiston LLC is owned by South Berwick real estate developers Jim and Rebecca Henry.

Josh Soley of Maine Realty Advisors represented the Henrys in the deal, which closed Dec. 10.

The building is on the corner of Lisbon and Ash streets and abuts the Hartley Block, a new construction completed last March.

Designed by U.S. bank architects Hutchins and French of Boston, the building was originally Manufacturers National Bank. The seven-story structure has an area of over 20,000 square feet that’s been divided up into about 70 individual office suites, according to a 2015 marketing video posted by Androvise Realty.

The design features “early modern influence” that’s indicated by the steel frame consisting of a curtain wall structural system, along with a neo-classical ornamentation on the first story. The lower level on the Ash Street facade has large “Chicago style” windows and one street level shop entrance. During renovation in the 1960s, the interior of the former bank underwent extensive alteration. The building is situated at the most accessible and traveled cross streets in the downtown revitalization zone and is near shops, restaurants and other professional office spaces. Parking is convenient, as the building is adjacent to the Centreville Parking garage. 

Value-add opportunity

The building is in great shape but dated inside, said Soley. Historic architectural features include terrazzo marble floors, wood moldings and arched windows. 

Courtesy / Maine Realty Advisors
The Professional Building houses numerous offices and hallway waiting rooms. Updates are planned for aesthetics, layout and mechanical systems.

Real estate prices are trending up toward $100 per square foot in Lewiston, he said. 

“This property was about $27 per foot, which is a great deal, reminiscent of four or five years ago,” he said.

The building is almost fully leased, primarily for office use by professional services such as law firms and marketing agencies. 

“Jim and Rebecca have continued to prove their ability to add value in every property they touch, regardless of product type, location or existing dynamic,” Soley added. “Their ability to make rational decisions under pressure and act quickly to new opportunities in this market has paid out in spades over the past five years that I have had the pleasure of working with them. I look forward to seeing what they will do next in the Lewiston office market.”

Soley brought the property to the Henrys off-market. The Henrys are executives in the software technology industry and co-founders of Remington Street Properties

Their original focus was on multi-family residential properties. They own residential properties, ranging from large buildings with 20-plus units to one-unit condos, in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Last July, they took their first plunge into the office market with the acquisition of 1 Pleasant St. in Portland, known as the Cinamon Building, which is now undergoing renovations.

Lewiston resurgence

The Professional Building is their first entry into Lewiston.   

The purchase reflects the couple’s confidence in the city’s resurgence, said Jim Henry, who was born and raised in Maine.

“Lewiston had a tough reputation for some time,” he said. “As the economy has grown in Maine and as real estate has blossomed in places like Portland, I think the effect is that folks have been looking to other areas” like Lewiston.

The building houses a solid core of quality tenants, he said. Plans are in the works for exterior and interior renovations and taking advantage if possible of city programs designed to assist commercial development, such as its façade improvement program.

“One of the reasons we’re re drawn to Lewiston is because they’re making an attempt to draw business in,” he said. “I think they’ve been successful at bringing a lot of development into places like the mills. And Lisbon Street has the ability to become the Exchange Street of Lewiston.”

The plan is to start interior renovations on the small vacancies currently in the building, he said. Renovations will continue as additional space turns over, he added. 

“We’ll work with existing tenants to understand where they are in their evolution as tenants, and make sure they have what they’re looking for,” he said.

The plan also includes updating mechanical systems to make the more environmentally and economically sustainable, he said.

The Henrys expect their initial investment in renovation to be about $100,000 in the first two years.

“Our plan now is to make it a much more valuable building, in terms of total value and cost savings,” he said. “We’re not looking to take cash flow in the first couple of years.”

He added, “I would have been surprised. three years ago. if you had said we’d be investing in Lewiston. But things are on the rise in Lewiston.”

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