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Updated: October 5, 2023

Real Estate Insider Notebook: Luxury treehouses, fast-food expansion and parking garage woes

Courtesy / Woods Maine Treehouse Woods Maine Treehouse, in Oxford County, was built by Pete Nelson, best known for the show "Treehouse Masters" on Animal Planet.

The Woods Maine Treehouse, a Norway destination that's been popular with the glamping crowd, received a distinction that seems sure to amp up its popularity.

The retreat, which was designed by renown treehouse builder Pete Nelson, was designated one of only five U.S. "Nelson Treehouse Experiences" by the Fall City, Wash.-based Nelson Treehouse & Supply. Others are in Fall City, Wash.; Utopia, Texas; Ashford, Wash.; and Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Woods Maine Treehouse
The interior of Woods Maine Treehouse, a Nelson Treehouse Experience property in Norway, Oxford County.

In Norway, Oxford County, the New England-style treehouse has two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a full kitchen and dining area, as well as a living room with a fireplace and screened-in porch. It also offers private access to Lake Pennesseewassee.

“To have gone from being a fan of 'Treehouse Masters' on Animal Planet to partnering with the Nelson family is nothing short of a dream come true,” said Samantha Masabny, co-creator of the Woods Maine Treehouse. “We are honored to be a luxury property in their portfolio."

Each Nelson Treehouse Experience location has been hand-built by Pete Nelson and the Nelson Treehouse team. The sites are "built to foster the longevity of living trees and prioritize guest safety," the resort said.

Woods Maine Treehouse
The Woods Maine Treehouse, built by Pete Nelson of Nelson Treehouse & Supply.

The Woods Maine Treehouse was named one of Travel + Leisure's "10 best places to go glamping in Maine," joining resorts featuring cabins, yurts, houseboats, luxury tents, a Conestoga wagon and decked-out Airstream.

It's also been featured by Luxe Digital, Decor Maine,, MaineLife and Down East magazine.

A quick look at the booking site shows rates can easily run $700 to $800 a night, based on a minimum two-night stay for a couple. 

In addition to the treehouse, there is a Woods Maine Shop on Main Street in Norway. 

Nelson Treehouse has built more than 350 custom treehouses around the world. 

Taste for fast food

DeStefano & Associates Inc. handles a wide variety of construction projects, but lately it has shown its expertise in fast-food establishments.

Aroma Joe's
An Aroma Joe's site in Kittery built by DeStefano & Associates.

The Portsmouth, N.H.-based construction firm completed ground-up construction of a 1,000-square-foot Aroma Joe's at 523 U.S. Route 1 in Kittery. The design was by Theresa M. English of Kansas City-based TK Architects International. 

The franchisee group is made up of Maryna Shuliakouskaya, Loren Goodridge (also the Aroma Joe’s CEO), Mark Carey and Kaitlyn Burnell. The group has a total of eight Aroma Joe's locations.  

Aroma Joe’s, which is based in South Portland, has 106 locations — in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Florida, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York. Sites are in development from Maine to Florida.

Back to DeStefano: It is building a Dunkin' site in Limerick, York County. The 1,200-square-foot store was designed by Aharonian & Associates Inc. It is expected to open in December.

Finally, DeStefano has broken ground on an 11,500-square-foot Dollar General store in East Waterboro, also in York County. It is expected to be completed in December. 

Parking garage woes

A Biddeford City Council member is not happy with the operator of a newer parking garage in town.

The garage was built in 2021 and has not met revenue expectations, one city councilor said. As a result, the city voted to authorize a $200,000 "stabilization payment" of nearly $200,000 to buttress operations. 

Martin Grohman headshot
File photo
Martin Grohman

The garage is underperforming, and Councilman Marty Grohman, who represents Ward 3, thinks he knows why.

He wrote a letter to the garage's owner, New York City-based Amber Infrastructure, and operator, New Orleans-based Premium Parking, urging them to adjust how customers can pay. At present, customers are urged to pay with an app (though credit card payment is also accepted).

“This one thing is so obvious. They are limiting revenues because they are alienating a very large group of people, those who either don’t have a smartphone or who refuse to download an app if they do have a smartphone,” said Grohman, who is running for mayor.

“The garage accepts credit cards, but it has absolutely no signage making that clear. Everything is geared to forcing people to use the app, which is crazy. Instead of using the app, many potential customers are just turning up their noses. And that means the City of Biddeford has to pay to make up the difference.”

Grohman said that’s unfair to older residents and visitors, who are far more comfortable with more traditional payment technology. He said they should help customers rather than intimidating them with technology they don’t want to use.

“I wrote them a very detailed letter pinpointing a serious defect in their approach to customer service. This defect is fixable. My fellow councilors and I will be paying very close attention to their response.”

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