Nick Lucas & Chris Romano / January 27, 2022
After a bumpy 2020, the second half of 2021 has seen a revived interest in the Augusta office market. In October, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) leased 43,000± SF of Class A office space at 353 Water Street. The transaction marked the largest office lease deal in Central Maine since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we anticipate another government entity will sign a lease in the 50,000 SF-range in 2022. We also expect the sale of a large, government-leased Class A office building in the coming year.
The IFW lease signals a big win for downtown Augusta. The office market is critical to the city’s local economy. Office tenants, like state and medical employees, help drive day-to-day demand for restaurants, shops, and other businesses, which all make it an ideal location for the thousands of lobbyists, lawyers, and other state workers who travel there for work and want places to shop and dine. The office sector also provides many jobs for the construction industry, with the need for buildouts and renovations.
We have also seen activity in the industrial market, where there is high demand for product and limited available inventory. As a result of the low vacancy rate, several new construction projects have commenced. Sunbelt Rentals leased 12,000± SF of build-to-suit space at 53 Leighton Road, O&P Glass is constructing a 5,000± SF addition to their existing 28,000± SF facility, and J.S. McCarthy Printers will build a 13,000± SF addition to their existing 124,000± SF facility at 15 Darin Drive.
In Gardiner, activity continued in the new Libby Hill Business Park. PODS purchased land to build a 54,000± SF self-storage facility and Everett J. Prescott Inc. recently constructed a significant addition to their existing location. ChemStation purchased Lot 20 and plans to build a 10,000–20,000 SF facility, their first location in Maine. With the continued demand for industrial product, we anticipate the Libby Hill Business Park will continue to be a draw for new businesses and construction.
Additionally, the City of Gardiner reports that the Boys & Girls Club broke ground on their new $10 million facility, located at 14 Pray Street. The clubhouse will be on the same acreage as its current location and is scheduled to open in October 2022.
Over the past century, Waterville has undergone massive economic and social change. Like most former mill towns in Maine, the city’s economy was hit hard after the closure of its mills. The population declined, infrastructure suffered, and the once bustling Main Street fell quiet. Over the past few years, millions of investment dollars have poured into Main Street, and redevelopment projects have reinvigorated the look and feel of the city. Led by Colby College, the public-private partners involved aim to transform downtown Waterville and return Main Street to a vibrant shopping and business district. This past year has seen a continuation of the trend, as some projects reached completion, some continued their progress, and others launched. These efforts to improve the city have been widely successful, making Waterville an emerging market for investors. The city is poised for continued growth in 2022 and beyond.
Nick Lucas, Broker
Chris Romano, Operations Associate