Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

Updated: November 4, 2019

Massachusetts investment group buys into Biddeford’s growth opportunity

Courtesy / Google Earth 156-160 Main St. in Biddeford sold for $1.2 million in an off-market deal to a Massachusetts investment group interested in Biddeford’s growth potential.

A Somerville, Mass., investment group that specializes in emerging markets has identified Biddeford as exactly the kind of community it is looking for.

3-1A Beacon LLC bought 156-160 Main St. from Lucid Properties LLC for $1.2 million and 215 Main St. from Full Circle Properties LLC for $850,000. Both properties are in downtown Biddeford. The deals closed Sept. 20.

Both are older buildings: 156-160 Main St. comprises two attached buildings that date to 1890. Two blocks down and across the street, 215 Main St. was built in 1910.

“These were off-market properties, which is key to how a lot of things are happening in Biddeford and other places,” said the buyer's representative, Jed Rathband of Keller Williams/The Rathband Co.

In the thick of development

156-160 Main St. is locally known as “The Wedge” because of its triangular shape, he said. The building’s original occupant was Day’s Jewelers, and “Day’s Est. 1914” is laid in the tiled entryway.

It contains four commercial units and seven residential units. Among its tenants is the office of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.

“It’s a two-story building that sits prominently on Main Street, right in the thick of the redevelopment down there,” Rathband noted. 

215 Main St. has seven residential units and one commercial unit.  It features ornate brickwork, arched window frames and hardwood floors. 

At one time, recalled Rathband, it was “a ragged old retail space and had shoddy units upstairs.”

The two properties were part of the first wave of downtown improvements that began more than a decade ago, Rathband noted. 

“The seller put in the early sweat equity and took all the risk, got them 80% better, got the rents where they needed to be and repositioned the buildings so they could attract better tenants,” he said. “The buyers will be able to take that even further."

Buy low

The seller entities, Lucid Properties LLC  and Full Circle Properties LLC, are owned by Christopher Betjemann III.

He acquired both buildings, one with a partner, in the early 2000s.

Betjemann, who a background is architecture and urban planning, lives in Portland and owns a company called Full Circle Design.

In the early 2000s, he  said, he was looking for investment property in need of redevelopment. He liked Biddeford as a small urban center with great buildings and access to the Saco River and the ocean.

“I wanted to try to buy low, but someplace that was up-and-coming,” he said. 

Biddeford seemed ideal, he said. 215 Main St. was his first purchase there; he liked its historical character.

Courtesy / Keller Williams/The Rathband Co.
The same group loves the historic nature of 215 Main St., which went for $850,000.

He subsequently bought three other properties, including Lincoln Mill. 

“We owned the mill for eight years and sold it four years ago,” he said.

That was 2015, when the  240,000-square-foot Lincoln Mill sold to Tim Harrington of Kennebunk-based LHL Holdings. Harrington and Eric Chinberg, of Chinberg Properties of Newmarket, N.H., last week broke ground for construction of a mixed-use development in the mill.

Starting to rock and roll

With the sale of the Main Street buildings, Betjemann still retains one Biddeford property, at 25 Alfred St.  

Betjemann said his goal from the start was to revitalize the community.

“We recruited people who were like-minded, who were passionate about the arts, trying to make Biddeford a better place,” he said. “People who bought buildings, restored them, put in good tenants.”

He continued, “Ten years ago, we were starting to rock and roll. Now, Biddeford is the new Brooklyn.”

Musicians and restaurateurs 

Betjemann said he saw the same sense of mission in the buyer of his two buildings.

That buyer is a real estate investment group named One Beacon Ventures and led by J. Grimaldi (he goes by the first name “J.”). 

The purchase is the Massachusetts partnership’s first investment in Maine.

“But we’ve been coming to Maine for many years,” Grimaldi said.

The partners in the group include musicians, restaurateurs and small business owners, he said. 

“We love going into emerging markets,” he said.

The group made its first investment in Somerville, Mass., in 2005, when it bought the building where they were operating a bar and music club. 

“We’re very much into the grassroots aspects of neighborhoods,” Grimaldi said. 

They’ve made similar purchases in Amesbury, Mass.

“Amesbury is an up-and-coming mill town, similar to Biddeford,” he said. “That’s what drew us to the Biddeford area. We love Portland and the restaurant scene and everything, but we’re always looking for the next Somerville.”

Somerville is next to trendy Cambridge, Mass.

“Somerville was always the neglected sister city,” he said. “It’s where all the artists and musicians and working people lived. We’re always interested in the adjacent, maybe overlooked, city that has a lot of character and potential. We feel Biddeford is the next area that’s fun and has a lot of potential and a lot of growth opportunity.”

The group connected with Biddeford through Grimaldi’s sister, who works in Portland.

“She’s been telling me for years, ‘You should check out Biddeford,’” he related. She also introduced him to Rathband.

“He told me right away, ‘There are two buildings in Biddeford you have to see,’” he reported.

Grimaldi said he liked the value outlook in Biddeford.

“Portland its still a good value, long-term, but you get way more value in a place like Biddeford, where it’s turning the corner but still has a longer runway,” he said. 

The buildings are about 85% leased. 

The buyers have hired a professional management company for the Biddeford properties. 

Plans for 156-160 Main St. include some interior improvements and exterior beautification at some point, such as an installing a stylistically appropriate awning and signage.

“We feel like it needs a little bit of a face lift,” he said. 

Little work is needed for 215 Main St., he said.

“It’s so beautiful already, so there’s not much to do there except pointing some brick,” he said.

Grimaldi credited Betjemann as an early “visionary” in nurturing Biddeford as an “up-and-coming hot spot.” He also credited Rathband for his involvement as a consultant in efforts to close a downtown waste-to-energy plant and his focus as a real estate broker on Biddeford as an emerging market.

“We’re very passionate abut the places we invest in because we want to do cool things and be part of the positive change in the community,” said Grimaldi. “We’re thoughtful about where we put our own money.”

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF