Hallowell’s Water Street has become an investment hub
Downtown Hallowell’s Water Street, running along the Kennebec River, has attracted a fair bit of real estate investment over the past year.
Investors have been drawn by a sense of community, attractive downtown buildings, historically low retail vacancy rates and well-maintained properties, according to one broker.
Transactions have included the sale of 167-175 Water St., a 10,300-square-foot office and retail building that sold in December for $1.049 million. The buyer was Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. LLC; the seller was Y Slates LLC. Andre Rossignol of Maine Realty Advisors brokered the deal. Tenants include a restaurant and professional services firms.
Courtesy / Maine Realty Advisors
At 167-175 Water St., ground-floor retail and upper-story office space will include some renovations.
Another deal was for 156 Water St., a 4,500-square-foot mixed-use building sold in October to Capital Area Properties LLC by Kennebec West Shore Apartments LLC for $525,000. Ben Spencer of Maine Realty Advisors and Katherine Couture of Lakehome Group Real Estate were the brokers.
Other notable deals:
Courtesy / Maine Realty Advisors
The white building is 109-111 Water St. The mixed-use building was well maintained by the sellers and was bought as an investment.
- 109-111 Water St.: A mixed-use building sold last May to Pelican-Hill LLC by Brian and Judith Skehan for $500,000. Ben Spencer Maine Realty Advisors brokered the deal.
- 130-138 Water St.: A 19th century apartment and retail complex, reconstructed several years ago and re-tenanted in 2021, sold for $2.4 million to John Hathaway, CEO and president of processor Shucks Maine Lobster in Richmond. Samantha Drake of LUX Realty and David Jones of F.O. Bailey Real Estate brokered the deal, which closed in January 2023.
- 100 Water St.: A 19th century, mixed-use downtown building sold to Ryan Gallant, owner of Gallant Therapy Services, to grow the business. Matt Pouliot of Pouliot Real Estate brokered the deal, which closed in January 2023.
- 103 Water St.: City Drawers Inc. leased 1,717 square feet of retail space from 10 Water St. LLC. Ben Spencer Of Maine Realty Advisors brokered the deal.
Spencer is the buyer or co-buyer of 167-175 Water St., 156 Water St. and 109-111 Water St.
Portland-based Maine Realty Advisors, where Spencer is senior vice president, recently opened a second office at 175 Water St.
Interest in Water Street
There are a number of reasons why investors are interested in Water Street, Spencer said. That includes what he said is a strong sense of community, attractive downtown buildings, historically low retail vacancy and well-maintained properties.
“Hallowell has always outperformed Augusta and Gardiner’s downtowns on really every scale, despite being smaller than both of these neighboring downtown districts,” he said.
At 167-175 Water St., Maine Realty Advisors is occupying a third-floor office and there are three other tenants — a restaurant called Bistro Milliard along with Always Friday Medical Aesthetics and Aiello Law. Two office vacancies remain.
“The second phase is turning it into a stable investment property,” said Spencer.
That includes some renovations for the Maine Realty Advisors office at an estimated cost of $30,000 to $40,000, and work to be performed for potential tenants.
The building consists of ground-floor retail and two upper stories of office space. Features include access on three sides, including a storefront door location, a side entrance and a rear entrance.
Built in 1840, it was renovated after a fire in 2007 by the seller, Y Slates LLC.
Now, said Spencer, “it’s probably the most prominent downtown Hallowell building.” Financing for the deal was provided by Mascoma Bank.
At 156 Water St., renovations of the mixed-use building are underway, said Spencer.
“We renovated all the common areas and we’ve been going through and renovating apartments as they become available,” he said.
The upper-story units are occupied, leaving the ground-floor retail space to be filled.
“When we find a tenant for the retail space, we’ll offer assistance in renovating that,” Spencer continued.
The renovation cost is expected to be around $40,000 — half each for the apartments and the retail space. Financing was provided by Katahdin Trust Co.
The retail space was occupied for decades by Dom’s Barbershop, which moved to Augusta.
Built in 1809 with Hallowell granite, the property is the second oldest in Hallowell, according to listing information. Features include a Masonic mural in the attic. There are four apartments, two with decks that overlook the Kennebec River. The property has five parking spots.
The mixed-use building at 109-111 Water St. includes ground-floor retail with three apartments above. Spencer bought the property, well maintained by the sellers, as an investment.
“There’s nothing that needs to be done to it,” he said. “It’s a very clean property.”
Spencer, who grew up in the area, said the real estate activity reflects a “a vibrant downtown.”
“People really do love it here,” he said.
He continued, “People take care of their buildings. There’s less vacancy. There’s more of a community feel.”