BRUNSWICK LANDING, Maine – As the master redeveloper of the former Naval Air Station Brunswick (NASB), the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA) oversees one of the largest, most exciting and complex real estate development projects in the State of Maine.
MRRA was created in 2007 by the Maine State Legislature as a public municipal corporation to implement the Reuse Master Plan for NASB, which was de-commissioned and closed in 2011 by the U.S. Base Closure and Realignment 2005 commission. Since then, MRRA has made good progress in revitalizing the property and continues to be very active in marketing buildings and land to the private sector. Here’s the latest report on some of the progress we’ve made.
Since the approval of the Public Benefit Conveyance (PBC) and the signing of the Economic Development Conveyance Purchase and Sale Agreement in 2011, the Navy has transferred approximately 1,660 acres of the 2,100+ acres MRRA is slated to receive. Since the last closing on March 24, 2014, in which MRRA received 35 acres of PBC property, MRRA has now been conveyed 744.56 (68%) of the 1,098 acres of the non-airport property and 972 (98%) of the 992.1 acres of airport land.
Public benefit conveyances of land and buildings have been made or are in the process of conveying to Southern Maine Community College, Bowdoin College, Town of Brunswick and Family Focus. All the remaining properties at the former NASB and Topsham Annex will be conveyed once appropriate environmental clearances are obtained.
Redevelopment Activity Review
So far 2014 is looking like another good year for redevelopment. Already this year we have added several new tenants and have several more in lease negotiation. Several tenants are expanding their lease areas in Hangar 6, Hangar 5 and Building 200 (Air Terminal). On the sale side, we have 55,000 SF under contract, as well as an additional 90,000 SF of building space and approximately 40 acres in final negotiation.
When we account for the latest Navy conveyances and the property we have sold, MRRA currently owns approximately 1,400 acres of land and 1,075,000 SF of building space. To date we have sold over 300 acres of land and 27 buildings (nearly 600,000 SF) to local developers George Schott, Jim Howard, Tom Wright and Hilary Rockett. The properties that we have sold are all undergoing further redevelopment.
MRRA has recently signed a lease with RollEase for 11,000 SF of space in former Navy Building 54. The Stanford, CT-based window coverings and component manufacturer is opening its product development and research center at Brunswick Landing. The addition of RollEase to the Brunswick Landing lineup gives us a total of 53 entities doing business here. So far, 450 jobs have been created with 750 in the pipeline by the end of the year. Redevelopment activities have added more than $51 million to the tax rolls of the Towns of Brunswick and Topsham and we’ve paid out more than $27 million in state and local contracts. In fact, we’re well ahead of our BRAC 2005 peers in terms of redevelopment success.
MRRA was recently named one of only 11 winners of grant money from President Obama’s “Make It In America Challenge” for its TechPlace business incubator and technology accelerator project. Now that the Economic Development Administration grant for $1.5 million is in place and the Lease in Furtherance of Conveyance (LIFOC) is secured for Building 250, the future home of TechPlace, MRRA staff is aggressively working to gear up for the opening of the facility in October. We’re currently in space planning mode and will be putting the work of upgrading the building out to bid once we’ve determined the specification of the work to be done. Once the bid is awarded next month, construction will take place from May to the end of September with grand opening in October.
Renewable Energy Plant
MRRA has signed the lease agreement and power purchase agreement with Village Green Ventures for the anaerobic digester project, which will provide up to 1 MW of power to Brunswick Landing. All State and local permits have been secured and financing is in place. VGV plans to break ground on the project in May and be generating power no later than December. This exciting project is consistent with MRRA’s mission and reuse plan for a renewable energy center.
This project is going ahead despite Central Maine Power’s alternative rate proposal, which contains a proposed stand-by fee that would penalize folks who produce their own power while staying connected to the grid. The stand-by charge could increase the cost of power here and make this project economically unfeasible. MRRA has testified against the CMP rate proposal and has filed as an intervener in the case with the Maine Public Utilities Commission. We’ll know in June if the rate proposal is approved.
To date, Affordable Mid Coast Housing has closed on 83 housing units in the McKeen Street neighborhood, and a number of others are under contract. By our agreement with AMH, after $1,000,000 in land sales have been realized (i.e., 20% of the purchase price), MRRA receives 5% of the purchase price of each unit sold. Land sales now total more than $2 million and MRRA has received more than $300,000 to date for its agreed share.
MRRA’s contractor McGee Construction has commenced the demolition of about 20 structures in Topsham and Brunswick that are not suitable for redevelopment. Having these unsuitable structures razed will pave the way for new development opportunities. This project is partially funded through our EDA grant and should be completed by June. So far demo crews have leveled 14 buildings and about half of the 95,748 SF of building space that will be removed. All of the buildings slated for demolition in Topsham have been taken down. Now we’re demolishing obsolete airport facilities and Brunswick Landing buildings that are beyond salvation.