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Updated: June 1, 2023

Real Estate Insider notebook: Szanton plans 72 apartments in Lewiston; Gorham grants; a 'funky' boutique

Szanton Co. Picker House Lofts in Lewiston will have 72 units of mixed-income housing.

Szanton Co., which has already had a busy spring, will hold a groundbreaking next week in Lewiston to unveil its latest project.

Picker House Lofts will offer 72 units of mixed-income housing. The apartments will be aimed at a variety of household sizes and income levels. 

The project, at 2 Cedar St., calls for a conversion of the Picker House section of the Continental Mill. Two local firms are involved: Hebert Construction, of Lewiston, will manage the project; Platz Associates, of Auburn, handled design. 

Amenities will include a fitness center, rooftop deck, community room, laundry room, secure bike storage and off-street parking.

Szanton will unveil the project Friday, June 9, at 10 a.m., with MaineHousing, TD Bank, Evernorth, the city of Lewiston and CEI.

Jim Neuger
Milliken Heights adds 55 apartments to the housing stock in Old Orchard Beach. Szanton Co. was the developer.

In April, Szanton opened Milliken Heights, a 55-unit apartment building in Old Orchard Beach. The project cost $15 million.

Photo / Tim Greenway
Nathan Szanton

In Bath, Szanton is developing a 50-unit apartment building at a cost of $12 million. 

Szanton Co. president Nathan Szanton was a Mainebiz Business Leader of the Year in 2022. 

At the time, Szanton was asked by a Mainebiz reporter if he'd ever be interested in developing luxury housing. 

"My heart and soul are in affordable housing," he said in the 2022 profile. "We build Chevys. We don’t build Audis and Cadillacs. I want to provide people with good, decent housing."

Gorham starts business upgrade program

The town of Gorham has launched a grant program to do exterior makeovers. 

The Facade & Leasehold Improvement grants offer $5,000 in matching grants. Applications are taken through a competitive process. 

So far, eight businesses have gotten grants. They range from Jotul North America, the U.S. division of the Norwegian manufacturer of cast-iron woodstoves, to a bed-and-breakfast. 

A few of them are multi-unit commercial properties, said Kevin Jensen, Gorham’s director of economic development.

Here’s the full list of the eight businesses:

  • Village Center Office Association, 28 State St.: Home to SYNC Gorham, Dream Home Realty and Edward Jones Financial
  • PineCrest Inn B&B
  • Busters Barber Shop
  • RH Maine LLC, 2 School St.: Home to MK Kitchen, Dance Studio of Maine and Lux Beauty Bar
  • Jotul North America
  • Plowman Realty Group
  • Orchard Ridge Farm
  • The Village Mall: Home to Sullivan House Bakery, Hops & Vines and five others.
Town of Gorham
The Pine Crest B&B in Gorham

The businesses are in Gorham Village Center, as well as the Gorham Industrial Park and North Gorham area.

The Façade & Leasehold Improvement grant program supports upgrades to building façades on highly visible commercial properties; improvements in energy efficiency and sustainability; and improvements in public accessibility and inclusion to address ADA requirements and community needs.

The program intends to spur investment in targeted commercial zones, funding important upgrades to properties that will support small business growth and future development, the town said.

“This was a great opportunity for the town to partner with Gorham businesses while helping give more curb appeal to the community,” said Gorham Town Council Chairperson Lee Pratt. “Hopefully, this is a program we can continue into the future.”

The town administers an active revolving loan fund program for business loans up to $150,000. The façade improvement program was created as a result of conversations between local businesses and town staff on ways to further support the Gorham business community. 

“The town is committed to supporting our local businesses and working with them to address what they see as priorities and opportunities,” said Jensen. “This is the first step in establishing local grant funding that is responsive to the needs of the Gorham business community.”

Not far away, Great Falls Construction is nearing completion of Red City Ale House, which will be located in the old South Windham fire station, Jensen said. 

“There is potential for this project to be a catalyst for revitalizing the South Windham/Little Falls area,” Jensen said, adding that a master plan was approved by Gorham Town Council that creates a template for how to balance development in Little Falls while preserving its historic character.  

Boutique sets up shop in Old Port

A clothing and gift boutique with New Hampshire roots has opened a store in the Old Port.

Bella Funk signed a four-year lease for a 1,700-square-foot space at 43 Exchange St. in Portland.

The landlord is East Brown Cow, while Pete Harrington at Malone Commercial Brokers brokered the four-year lease. 

The shop opened over Memorial Day weekend.

East Brown Cow
Bella Funk boutique in the Old Port.

Bella Funk was established by sisters Katie Stafford and Stefanie Moody, who opened their first shop in Littleton, N.H., in 2006. 

The New Hampshire natives found an audience for quality pieces, with a spotlight on local artisans. The shop sells women's clothing, accessories, beauty and gifts for “those embracing a creative lifestyle,” according to an announcement about the opening.   

“The historic space at 43 Exchange St. is a perfect fit for Bella Funk’s second storefront,” said Stafford. “Portland’s Old Port is not only inviting, but vibrant and full of energy, and embodies the essence of our brand. We look forward to becoming a staple in the Old Port’s retail community for years to come, showcasing the work of local artisans, and providing customers with high-quality, creative pieces.”

East Brown Cow has owned and managed the property since acquiring it last year. The property is part of the Preble Block II, which dates to 1867 and has architectural features like a brick facade and a storefront that combines granite, cast iron and wood paneling. 

“43 Exchange Street is a building rich with local history, and we are thrilled to introduce a local boutique that honors and showcases Maine artisans. East Brown Cow is committed to bringing thoughtfully curated storefronts to Portland’s Old Port, and Bella Funk’s presence will continue to add to Portland’s thriving retail scene,” said Tim Soley, president and CEO of East Brown Cow. 


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