January 31, 2022 - By Laurie Schreiber (Mainebiz)
The RAM Cos., a development firm in Scarborough, on Friday finalized the purchase of a 74,000-square-foot office complex in South Portland for $11.9 million. The list price was $12.5 million.
RAM has plans to invest about $2 million in improvements starting early this spring. RAM, headed by Howard Goldenfarb, acquired Atlantic Place from 341 Park LLC. The complex is 100% leased, according to a news release. It’s RAM’s first acquisition in Maine in several years. The purchase was financed through a combination of equity as well as debt provided by Needham Bank, headquartered in Needham, Mass.
“It is a pretty significant property,” Jessica Estes with the Boulos Co. told Mainebiz. Estes and Drew Sigfridson, also of the Boulos Co., represented the seller in the transaction. RAM, founded by Goldenfarb in 1971, is best known as the firm that helped spur the revival of the Old Port District, taking derelict buildings and redeveloping them at a time when many had given up on the area.
The seller Estes said the seller is a partnership of two investors, one of whom spends approximately half the year in midcoast Maine and the other who has some ties to the state. They purchased the property in 2014 for $8.5 million. “We spent the last few years leasing up the entire property, to get a better stabilized net operating income, and the seller wanted to realize the gains from the current market climate and improved income stream from the property,” Estes said. The property was on the market for a few months. “We had interest from local, national, institutional and single investors alike,” she added. The property has filled a “value” niche for tenants in the market over the past few years. “The location, ample parking and suite sizes ranging from 800 to 3,000 square feet have been desirable to our local tenant mix,” she said. “Also, most suites have direct access to the parking lot, so in an environment where COVID is spreading, the lack of common area space is helpful.”
The buyer Howard Goldenfarb, Todd Goldenfarb and Mark Campbell led the acquisition effort on behalf of RAM and its affiliate, Mile Marker Investments. Todd Goldenfarb is the founder’s son. “We spent significant time talking with current tenants before making our decision to go forward as we do with every acquisition,” said Howard Goldenfarb. “Most of the tenants are long-term and all are very satisfied with the complex and its location.” Located off Darling Avenue in South Portland, the property comprises three one-story buildings and a five-per-1,000 parking ratio on 8.58 acres. Each building has 16-foot ceiling heights. Many tenants have direct entrances to their spaces, which are designed for flexibility. The complex was constructed in 1979. Atlantic Place is home to 22 tenants, said Estes. They range from local to national companies and include U.S. Cellular, Loan Depot and Easter Seals, along with many in the medical field, including Humana, Maine Behavioral Healthcare and Beacon Hospice. Lease sizes range from just over 700 square feet to nearly 17,000 square feet. “The property was constructed for maximum flexibility with suite sizes,” said Estes. “Many tenants have been there for a decade or more, and have been able to expand or contract into adjacent suites with relative ease.” RAM will rename the complex Atlantic Place Commerce Center. The property will be professionally managed by the team at RAM. Planned renovations will include upgrades of the landscaping and parking lots, rebranding with new signs, replacing the roof and HVAC systems, and improving the common areas. In addition, plans are in the works to add electric vehicle charging stations on site. The property attracted RAM’s attention for many reasons, Goldenfarb told Mainebiz via email.
Excellent tenant base Location and building functionality were key, and the growth of the Maine Mall area as well as the addition of more residential units in the area added great value to the property. An excellent tenant base, with many in the medical field and deemed essential, also added value. “Although a hybrid work model will become more prevalent, many companies, especially those that bring clients into their space, many in the medical field, will always need well-located flex office space,” he said. “Atlantic Place has ample parking, and most tenants have direct access to their space which allows for many of the employees and their teams to not have to share lobby or elevator space with several people at a time.” Todd Goldenfarb noted that real estate activity in greater Portland was attractive, as increasing numbers of larger companies as well as entrepreneurial start-ups are operating in Maine. Also attractive, he said, are amenities that surround the property, such as restaurants, the Maine Mall, and easy access to downtown. “We have a very long history in Maine real estate and are pleased to be transacting again in the market,” said Todd Goldenfarb. “We are also involved in a hotel development in the West End of Portland, and we hope to do more in the market soon.”
Old Port developer In the 1970s, Goldenfarb purchased and redeveloped more than 22 Old Port properties, including many historic buildings. The firm claims many of its building projects have been firsts, including the Maine Outlet in Kittery, the first multi-tenant, purpose-built outlet mall in New England, according to the release. The 77,000-square-foot Citicorp Park, now called the Park at 100 Foden Road and located across the street from Atlantic Place, is considered one of Maine’s first suburban office parks. RAM has also developed outlet malls in England, Belgium, and Israel. In recent years, the company has acquired several million square feet of industrial property. Through its Miami Beach, Fla., affiliate, Mile Marker Investments, the company is involved in the development of luxury single family homes and town homes, a 42-story high-rise luxury apartment building in Austin, Texas, and a 48-key hotel to be built in the West End of Portland.