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Updated: February 22, 2024

National retailer Free People leases first Maine storefront, in Portland's Old Port

brick and sandstone building Courtesy / Malone Commercial Brokers A Philadelphia apparel retailer has signed a 10-year lease for a storefront at 121 Middle St. in Portland’s Old Port neighborhood.

A Philadelphia apparel retailer has signed a 10-year lease for a storefront at 121 Middle St. in Portland’s Old Port neighborhood. Terms were not disclosed.

The retailer, Free People, is leasing the space from East Brown Cow, a real estate investment, development and management firm in Portland. The deal was brokered by Peter Harrington of Malone Commercial Brokers and Tim Duffy of the McDevitt Co.

The 121 Middle St. location will be Free People’s first brick-and-mortar storefront in Maine.

The 4,101-square foot space that makes up Suite 101, formerly occupied by Grove Collaborative, is housed in a historic property known as the Thompson Block, which is under renovation. 

Harrington played a pivotal role in securing the location for Free People.

person in blue buttondown and navy blazer
Pete Harrington

“Working with the team from East Brown Cow and Tim Duffy was a great experience and showcased the collaborative nature of this deal and the strength of these partnerships,” he said.  

Tim Soley, East Brown Cow’s president and CEO, said his company has been working with Malone Commercial Brokers to develop a retail mix in its Old Port properties.

The mix includes local and national retail tenants. National brands in the Old Port include Madewell, Anthropologie, Athleta, Urban Outfitters and West Elm.

Anthropologie, Free People and Urban Outfitters are all owned by a Philadelphia-based retail conglomerate, URBN.

Free People characterizes its products as “bohemian, empowering and fun,” according to a news release. The products are available online and in department and specialty stores across the U.S.

storefront with brick sidewalk and clothes in the windows
Courtesy / Free People
A typical Free People storefront, seen here in Amsterdam.

Completed in 1867, 121 Middle St. is a four-story, 37,847-square-foot Second Empire style building designed by George M. Harding, an architect who practiced in 19th-century Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

Encompassing an entire block, the high-visibility building has been managed by East Brown Cow since its acquisition in 2000. The exterior stays true to its historic roots with sandstone and brownstone detail, and a cast iron and carved wood storefront at street level that includes decorative columns and scrollwork.

In 2019, following extensive renovations, East Brown Cow announced the opening of a new hospitality offering within the building. Now known as the Docent’s Collection, the upper floors offer spaces called “Urban Homes” that are designed to combine hotel stays with services and amenities more typically associated with high-end residential rentals.

Free People is scheduled to open in August. 

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