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Updated: February 22, 2024

Real Estate Insider Notebook: A Portsmouth fashion brand finds Old Port space; UMaine investments

commercial street Photo / Peter Van Allen The Drift Collective LLC leased 1,954 square feet of retail space at 1 Commercial St. in Portland. The deal was brokered by Steve Baumann of Compass Commercial Brokers and Andrew Samonas of Samonas Realty LLC.

Drift Collective, a Portsmouth, N.H., brand whose clothing evokes a beach vibe and is produced in-house, will open a store in Portland's Old Port.

The Drift Collective LLC leased 1,954 square feet of retail space at 1 Commercial St. 

The deal was brokered by Steve Baumann of Compass Commercial Brokers and Andrew Samonas of Samonas Realty LLC.

The space, at the corner of Commercial and India streets, is being renovated after a prolonged vacancy. The space was most recently the Benkay Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar.

Baumann told Mainebiz that Drift Collective will be on the first floor and the three upper floors will each have an apartment unit. 

Because the building is historic, the permitting process was a lengthy one, he said. The building is owned by family trust, which also owns the buildings next door on Commercial Street — which include Brickyard Hollow's current location and space the brewpub is moving into. The 1 Commercial St. space also includes a dirt lot that fronts India Street. 

Optimum Construction Co., of South Portland, is managing the renovation. Archetype Architects of Portland handled design. 

It's expected Drift Collective could move in by mid-August. 

Drift Collective, which has a store at 50 Daniel St. in downtown Portsmouth, started as a bikini company and now produces a range of clothing for men and women. It is owned by Emily Stearns.

UMaine investments

The University of Maine System invested $630 million in the Maine economy during the most recent fiscal year.

A large share of that has gone into construction of new or newly renovated buildings, the UMaine System said. 

In fiscal year 2023, the UMaine System invested $143 million in construction, with 44 capital projects completed or underway, many possible thanks to private and corporate donations or one-time state or federal funds.

Sargent Corp., Bowman Constructors and Sullivan & Merritt Constructors Inc., all headquartered in Penobscot County, topped the list of the Maine suppliers to which the system sent the largest payments.

“The University of Maine System’s increasing investment in buildings and infrastructure has been integral for growth in Maine’s construction industry. In addition to the direct long-term benefits to current and future university students, the approach to these strategic investments has been carefully evaluated to ensure the System remains competitive and that’s essential for our state’s workforce,” said Kelly Flagg, executive director of the Associated General Contractors of Maine.

“Beyond the direct income to firms employing Maine’s skilled workers, the System’s impact is multiplied by local spending on goods, services, suppliers and materials. There is tremendous pride in the construction industry working on projects at Maine’s public universities as many are alumni themselves.”

Even spending with suppliers not headquartered in the state supported good-paying Maine jobs. For example, the UMaine System paid Consigli Construction and PC Construction a combined $31.6 million in FY23 for both new construction projects and deferred maintenance. Those companies are technically headquartered elsewhere in New England, but have offices in the state and employ many Mainers directly and indirectly for university projects.

Consigli is based in Milford, Mass., and has a Portland office at 15 Franklin St. PC Construction is based in South Burlington, Vt., and has a Portland office at 131 Presumpscot St. 

“We at Consigli Construction are grateful to be selected by the University of Maine System for such high-quality construction projects across the state. Not only do these public university projects allow us to compensate our committed team members but we are also able to hire our dedicated subcontractors across the state, local material suppliers and the Maine timber industry,” said Matthew Tonello, a University of Maine civil engineering graduate and director of operations at the Portland office of Consigli.

“Because the university is our go-to for recruiting new employees, we also know these projects will pay long-term dividends for Consigli and our state by providing the modern facilities necessary to attract and educate the future workforce our company and so many other Maine employers depend on.”

Real estate notes

Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, a luxury property company in Portland, announced that it achieved annual property sales of $865 million in 2023, totaling 898 transactions and a record-breaking average sales price of $964,000.

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