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Brunswick Landing deals top $1 million, include building for Bath Area YMCA

The economic development authority managing Brunswick Landing, the redevelopment of the former naval air station, has recently sold properties in two deals totaling more than $1 million.

Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority sold the Navy's former fitness center at 24 Venture Ave. and an adjacent 4.7-acre lot to a developer leasing it to the Bath Area Family YMCA as a satellite facility, and two lots totaling 13 acres at 37 Admiral Fitch Ave. for the construction of a 50,000-square-foot Avita Memory Care facility.

The fitness center and adjacent lot were sold for $549,000 to TBW LLC, which is owned by Thomas B. Wright, executive director of Seeds of Independence and founding partner of Wright-Ryan Construction. The sale closed on Sept. 26. Seeds of Independence is a nonprofit organization that helps at-risk youth in midcoast Maine and has its hub in two other renovated buildings at Brunswick Landing.

The other recent sale comprised of two lots sold to the Priority Real Estate Group of Topsham for $519,000. The sale, which closed Oct. 16, facilitates the construction of a $10 million Avita Memory Care facility. Avita is run by Northbridge Companies, a specialist in senior living, with properties serving senior residents in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, according to the company's website.

This is only the latest of Priority's projects at Brunswick Landing.

Jim Howard, the firm's founder and president, said commercial real estate investment and development firm also bought and converted two adjacent buildings, the Navy Lodge and the Navy Recreation Mall, into a 36,000-square-foot school for the Providence Service Corp., the largest provider of educational services to children with autism and learning disabilities in the country.

The firm also has a purchase and sale agreement with MRRA to acquire five other parcels of land for the construction of an expected 30,000 square feet of office space, and plans to buy the Navy's former Hobby Shop to convert it into a garage and headquarters for North East Mobile Health Services, based in Topsham.

There are now about 80 businesses at Brunswick Landing, including 20 at TechPlace, the complex's technology accelerator, which supports business development needs of early-stage companies in shared office, manufacturing, lab and warehouse spaces.

The state Legislature formed the development authority to redevelop the formal Navy base, which closed in 2011. The 3,200-acre property has about 1.8 million square feet of commercial and industrial space.

Steve Levesque, executive director of MRRA, said there is almost 70,000 square feet of building space under contract that should close before the end of the year, and about 10 acres of land under contract.

MRRA's marketing plan focuses on attracting business to Maine, as opposed to poaching existing businesses in Maine, Levesque said.

To attract business from out of state, the development authorities goes to a lot of trade shows for the specific industries it's trying to attract — aerospace, composites, information technology, biotechnology and renewable energy, Levesque said.

"I think we're starting to build a reputation," he said. "People think it's a hot property, and they want to be around that. The concept we've been trying to live up to — the Maine Center for Innovation, focusing on high-tech business and providing a collaborative environment — seems to be working. People want to be part of this. And it's a bit of a snowballing effect."

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