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The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on 82 Hanover Street

Each year, the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) recognizes some of the state’s most “noteworthy and significant” real estate projects, completed in the previous year. The exemplary projects from across the state, completed in 2020, not only embody MEREDA’s belief in responsible real estate development, but also exemplify best practices in the industry, contributing to Maine’s economic growth by significant investment of resources and job creation statewide.

This year, MEREDA honored projects from Portland to Pittsfield to Bangor, with each receiving special recognition at MEREDA’s 2021 Virtual Spring Conference on May 20th.

In a multi-part series exclusive to the Maine Real Estate Insider, we’ll provide an up-close look at the most notable commercial development projects of the past year that are helping to fuel Maine’s economy in terms of investment and job creation. MEREDA is proud to recognize responsible development based upon criteria including environmental sustainability, economic impact, energy efficiency, difficulty of the development, uniqueness, social impact and job creation.

MEREDA’s 2020 Top 6 recipients include:

82 Hanover Street, Port Property Management (Portland)
Rock Row Phase 1 Retail Center, Waterstone Properties Group (Westbrook)
Hospice of Southern Maine, Zachau Construction / SMRT (Scarborough)
Solterra, Portland Housing Authority (Portland)
One Merchants Plaza, Sky Villa Properties (Bangor)
Puritan Medical COVID –Building Expansion (P2), Puritan Medical Products (Pittsfield)

Please join us this week in celebrating 82 Hanover Street.

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

Port Property Management:  82 Hanover is a mixed-use commercial building located in the West Bayside neighborhood of downtown Portland. Designed to offer a lively community hub for existing residents and incoming neighbors, 82 Hanover combines local history and modern innovation in the form of a multi-use redevelopment. Through a collaboration with the City of Portland Planning and Public Works staff, residents, and other stakeholders, 82 Hanover is an urban destination built to serve the local neighborhood and foster community engagement.

The surrounding area has historically served as an industrial and municipal area of the Portland peninsula with little to offer for residents. With several nearby buildings and vacant lots being redeveloped into housing (we are currently developing 170 residential units directly adjacent to the site), 82 Hanover provides crucial infrastructure and employment opportunities to help sustain the new housing stock and the growing community of West Bayside.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project?  

Port Property Management: Recognizing that current and future residential projects continue to infill West Bayside, 82 Hanover offers a purposeful solution for local businesses and residents. For years to come, 82 Hanover will continue to offer goods, services, and employment opportunities – playing an integral role in strengthening and connecting the neighborhood.

Another central theme of this project was to celebrate the transformation of old to new while respecting the site’s character and integrity. This project transformed a former industrial Public Works building into a vibrant destination without compromising sustainability or environmental considerations. A critical piece of the project included environmental permitting, engineering, management, and remediation. The restoration of the existing building greatly reduced the need for generation and transportation of new building materials, while the design utilized several methods to raise the floor elevation providing resiliency to sea level rise.

Through a collaborative relationship between stakeholders and community members, 82 Hanover represents a shared, workable vision of the future that simultaneously creates economic vitality and honors local history.

MEREDA:  That sounds like quite a process.  How long were you in the planning stages before construction started?

Port Property Management:  The planning phase took about four years. We successfully bid on and purchased 82 Hanover from the City of Portland as part of their decision to sell six parcels when Public Works moved out of West Bayside. Following permitting and construction, 82 Hanover was fully leased by November 2019. Some of our earliest tenants included Wilson County Barbeque, Cyclebar, Fortune Teller Tattoo, and Banded Brewing.

MEREDA:  Tell us about the most challenging aspect of getting this project completed.

Port Property Management:  As 82 Hanover was renovated from a dilapidated building, no stone could be left unturned. Given the site historically served as a Public Works maintenance garage, the site housed storage tanks containing hydrocarbons prone to leaks, lead paint, and other contaminant issues. Following environmental site assessments, a sub-slab depressurization system was installed under the new concrete floor and two 20,000 gallons fuel station tanks were removed. One specific hurdle we overcame during the process was elevating the entire first floor of the building. The finished floor was raised from an existing elevation of 12’ to 13’ – this extra foot was critical in providing the building with a level of freeboard in a low-lying neighborhood (which is prone to flooding during King Tides and/or intense rain events). This resiliency technique was successfully applied to the existing building all while maintaining ADA accessibility for all 12 commercial tenants.

MEREDA:  Something unexpected you learned along the way was….

Port Property Management: The enduring demand for community spaces and shared outdoor environments. Although this demand was not entirely unexpected, the speed at which we filled the 43,000 sq ft space was. 82 Hanover was fully leased in just a little over a year, which speaks to the growth potential and vibrancy of West Bayside. While the pandemic put a temporary pause on activity, local patrons and tenants are eager to safely return to the feeling of camaraderie that 82 Hanover provides. There’s a strong pull from community members to reconnect through public spaces, especially outdoor spaces.

With this in mind, 82 Hanover includes a large courtyard utilized by brewpubs, restaurants, bars, and a public bicycle/pedestrian easement. The presence on the block and surrounding neighborhood has been brought back to life with increased foot traffic and activity created by this space. Eventually, the plaza will achieve a total width of 70’, resulting in an outdoor destination that will undoubtedly become the hub of West Bayside.

MEREDA:  Now that it’s complete, what feature of the project do you think makes it the most notable? 

Port Property Management:  82 Hanover stands out in its dedication to preservation and thoughtful restoration. Prioritizing authenticity and sustainability was a focus throughout the entire project. Rather than scrapping the existing building, 82 Hanover was renovated and restored to maintain its unique historic charm. Also, in order to adapt to a changing climate while maintaining the building’s character, mechanical systems were updated, single pane windows were replaced with insulated replica windows, and insulation was added whenever possible for enhanced sustainability and low-energy costs. The project gives nod to Maine’s industrial age and work ethic on both the interior and exterior; brick facades and interior units celebrate the “modern industrial” revamp with high ceilings and exposed beams. 82 Hanover looks and feels like a fundamental staple of West Bayside, which is a testament to its focus on the local community and how successfully the project supports the surrounding neighborhood.