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June 30, 2022

Progress on L.L.Bean headquarters redevelopment is ahead of schedule

Courtesy / L.L.Bean L.L.Bean's $110 million headquarters campus, shown here in a rendering, consolidates several offices and add new amenities for employees.

L.L.Bean’s $110 million headquarters redevelopment will be completed two years ahead of schedule as the work-from-home movement during the pandemic allowed construction to be sped up.

Under the project, the retailer is developing a 400,000-square-foot office complex in three phases on the existing headquarters site, just off Main Street in Freeport. The project will be completed in the spring of 2023, according to construction manager Zachau Construction.

“It’s not often that large scale commercial projects are able to be completed significantly early, in this case two years ahead, but due to the pandemic and the L.L.Bean staff working from home, we were able to expedite the timeline,” said Jeff Zachau, president and CEO of Zachau Construction.  

“Originally planned to be a five year project, we were able to work with L.L.Bean to overlap phases and are now nearing the completion of the project in three years, with final site improvements in spring of 2023. We recognize the hardships the pandemic created and are thankful that we could find one glimmer that allowed us to succeed,” Zachau said. 

"By shortening the project duration, we were able to create savings in project overhead, increase efficiency by eliminating starts and stops and allow the project team to take on other projects," L.L.Bean said. 

The company, which was founded in 1912, had $1.8 billion in revenue last year, an increase of 14%. The retailer has 56 U.S. stores, along with 24 in Japan and eight in Canada (in partnership with Jaytex Group). It has about 5,500 employees.

It has a significant presence in Freeport, where it has the flagship store downtown, an outlet store, the headquarters and a fulfillment-and-returns center on Desert Road, warehouse space and sites that offer training in outdoor sports ranging from fly fishing to archery to kayaking. It also maintains manufacturing facilities in Brunswick and Lewiston. 

Need for a new HQ

L.L.Bean has been in its current headquarters for five decades. The building, originally designed as a warehouse and factory, was reaching the end of its useful life, the company previously said.

As part of the campus, there will be a public trail, a 900-seat conference center and events center available for community use. Additionally, there is a full-service kitchen/eatery, fitness center and health clinic, an open, 10,000-square-foot courtyard available for employees, a product-testing lab and an onsite photography studio. 

"Our purpose is to enable people to experience the restorative power of being outside," L.L.Bean said. "The new headquarters, oriented toward the rear woods, will also feature abundant access to natural daylight with all exterior windows in shared open space so every employee can benefit." 

Currently, there are about 200 employees in the new headquarters on any given day, the company said.

"Our intent, when fully completed, is the for the headquarters to be a magnet and not a mandate for up to 1,000 returning employees," L.L.Bean said.

"The new headquarters will serve as a central location, consolidating our Freeport, Portland, Westbrook, and Lewiston offices. It represents our long-term commitment to the town of Freeport and to our employees," L.L.Bean said. "It is also an adaptive reuse project where former warehouse space is being converted into Class A office space, allowing us to recycle the structure of the original building  a huge environmental benefit compared to new construction."

The campus renovation includes the repurposing of an existing distribution building for a new state-of-the-art workspace. Phase one of the project is complete and occupied, while phase two is in the final “punch list” stage to resolve any last details, Zachau Construction said. 

Phase three, which consists of demolition and parking lot construction, is currently in the demolition phase and demolition is set to be complete in a few weeks. Impervious, hard-surface areas on the campus will be reduced and receive enhanced treatment for stormwater runoff, chloride reduction, and snow storage. New parking lots will be developed, highlighting green technologies and a more park-like feeling when entering the complex.

A 2020 agreement between the town of Freeport and L.L.Bean gave the retailer a nearly $10 million tax break as it moved forward with the redevelopment. As part of that effort, L.L.Bean agreed to help clean up Concord Gully Brook, which the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has categorized as an “urban impaired stream." It also is creating an new, upgraded stormwater management system that will mitigate runoff and improve water quality of the brook.

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