By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,269)
Real estate values in the India Street neighborhood are rapidly rising which has caused a shift in plans for prospective developers in the area according to real estate professionals familiar with the area. Some developers, not all, are seeing the increased value of the area and taking advantage of the opportunity to make money.
One of the more surprising changes in the India Street neighborhood is the recent decision of S. Donald Sussman, billionaire hedge fund owner, to vacate his plans to build market rate condominiums on Newberry Street. “He’s taking a step back and re-evaluating the situation,” said Tom Federle, Esq., his real estate attorney this afternoon at his office. “Donald wasn’t convinced that we’ve come up with the best project for this space at this time.” (The area of Newberry Street and Hampshire Street.) Currently, Sussman owns five properties; three have tenants and two are vacant. It’s about doing what is most impactful for the city, ” Federle said. Apparently Sussman is open to ideas, but there are no guarantees for the future of this section of the East End.
Some residents and business owners in the India Street corridor are worried about the future of the neighborhood since this postponement. The India Street Neighborhood Association has written a letter to Mr. Sussman about their concerns for the resulting vacant buidings. The letter also invites him to attend any one of its board meetings. Some interested parties are ready to take serious action to protect the integrity of the neighborhood; one suggested starting a demolition process and another suggested starting a lawsuit against Sussman. (S. Donald Sussman is the husband of US Rep. Chellie Pingree and a majority stockholder in the “Portland Press Herald.”)
Because of the rise in values in real estate, some developers have begun to rethink what they have begun. Almost three years ago, Mark Woglon and Greg Keish, principals in the Old Port Hospitality LLC Opechee Construction purchased the former Jordans Meats Co. Shortly thereafter, the site was destroyed by a major fire. But the luxurious Hampton Inn by the Sea, Sebago Bresing Co. restaurant and luxury Portside concominium units were completed as Phase 1 of their development. Last fall plans for constructing even more luxurious condominiums and office space on Phase 2 of the development were scrapped by Opechee. Earlier this year, Opechee sold the property to Chathan Lodging, a Florida based company. The selling price was between $24 M and $28 M. For more background information, please visit Post # 1,228, dated October 8, 2012 herein.
Finally, Catholic Charities has purchased the Rite-Aid mall which faces on Congress Street. It’s expected to be an income producing property.