2015 MRRA Annual Report
Letter from the Executive Director
Redevelopment activity on the properties at the former Naval Air Station Brunswick continued at a rapid pace in 2015. There are now nearly 80 business entities (public and private), including 24 that are new to the State of Maine, doing business at Brunswick Landing and the Topsham Commerce Park. We are proud to announce that we have resident businesses in each of our six target sectors: aerospace, composites, information technology, biotech, renewable energy and education, in addition to other complementary business sectors.
Collectively, these entities employ nearly 800 people with a promise of double that number in just a few short years.
The redevelopment effort has welcomed over $225 million in private and public sector investments ($175 million private, $50 million public) made to the properties over the past 4.5 years. Besides attracting individual business entities, we have been fortunate to attract seven major real estate developers who are acquiring and redeveloping properties at both Brunswick Landing and the Topsham Commerce Park. Some notable examples of our redevelopment activity include the following projects:
MRRA sold the former communications headquarters building to Affordable Midcoast Housing (AMH), which accommodates Oxford Networks and their state-of-the-art secured data center. The acquisition of this property was made possible by the sale of the former Navy Hotel from AMH (previously acquired from MRRA) to Rousseau Enterprises to develop a new senior congregate housing facility, which recently opened;
JHR Development sold the former Commissary building in Topsham (previously acquired from MRRA) to Wicked Joe Coffee Roasting Company to establish their high-tech, energy efficient production facility;
The Priority Group, after rehabilitating the former Navy Lodge and Recreation Center into beautiful facilities, has now turned its attention to the construction of new modern high quality buildings at the gateway of Brunswick Landing, including the new Sunray Animal Clinic;
Tom Wright, upon his acquisition of the former Family Services Center, has turned that facility into a multi-tenant services building and has redeveloped the former Vet Clinic to house a restaurant operation. He also just acquired the former Navy fitness facility, rehabbed it and is now leasing to the Bath Area YMCA; and Northbridge Companies acquired the former mobile home park land is constructing a 50,000 SF, $12 million memory care facility (Avita of Brunswick). This project was first facilitated by the initial property acquisition by the Priority Group.
The redevelopment effort continues to assist in the recovery of the local, regional and state economies impacted by the base closure.
MRRA has awarded over $50 million in various construction contracts, mostly to local and in-state firms, since the Navy base closed. Also, nearly $77 million has been added to the local tax rolls in Brunswick and Topsham. Just this fiscal year, over $2.5 million is being paid in real estate taxes from redevelopment of former base properties.
Equally important to the economic growth of the region is the success and growth of the Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) campus and Brunswick Executive Airport (BXM). The combined SMCC and University of Maine campus now contains nearly 900 students and staff. BXM is on pace for over 15,000 flight operations this year.
As one can imagine, the property mix and ownership patterns at the former base are becoming quite diverse. There are now 17 different property owners on the former base property, with several other deals currently under contract. In addition, over 35 buildings, comprising over 750,000 SF are owned by entities other than MRRA and the Navy.
We still have an inventory of nearly 500,000 SF for lease or sale to good job-creating businesses.
We are also very excited about our new venture, TechPlace, a 95,000 SF small business manufacturing technology accelerator, which opened its doors in January and provides a fabulous opportunity for the creation and growth of new businesses in a collaborative environment. It now hosts 16 start-up and early stage businesses.
We are also anxiously awaiting the operational start-up of our anaerobic digester energy plant later this year, currently being constructed by Village Green Ventures. This facility is expected to generate nearly half of our energy demand at Brunswick Landing, which already is sourcing 100 percent of its power from renewable sources.
In conclusion, we are very pleased with our success to date on the redevelopment effort, but we also realize there is still a long way to go to achieve the ultimate vision. Our progress has been consistent with the Reuse Master Plan and we are meeting and even surpassing our performance metrics.
We continue to remain very passionate and excited about realizing our dream as Maine’s Center for Innovation.
Steve Levesque, Executive Director, MRRA
Redevelopment activities continue to make a tremendous economic impact on the area. There are now 80 entities doing business at Brunswick Landing and Topsham Commerce Park. Almost 800 jobs have been created and more than $65 million in valuation have been added to the Towns of Brunswick and Topsham tax rolls.
TechPlace Shows Explosive Growth
TechPlace, Brunswick Landing’s Technology Accelerator/Incubator opened for business at the end of January. The 95,000 SF facility, located at 74 Orion Street in the former Navy Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department building, already has 16 businesses operating there. These innovative companies are start-ups or early-growth stage firms and are primarily engaged in advanced manufacturing and new technology. Several of them have already expanded into larger spaces at TechPlace. We expect to add a few more businesses to the TechPlace lineup within the next few months.
New Businesses Open
New businesses at Brunswick Landing and Topsham Commerce Park for 2015 include: Coastal Landing, Hoyle Tanner, Harpswell Coastal Academy, Brillant and Sons, L.L.Bean, Smarter Risk, Sunray Animal Clinic, Bath YMCA, and Firehouse Tumbling. TechPlace businesses include: Atayne, Bourgeois Guitars, AEROtech Surgical, Drummond Woodsum, GHG Underground, Greisen Aerospace, Grifin LLC, Harbor Digital, InSphero, Kenway Corp., Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Maritime Surveillance, STARC Systems, University of Maine. Between them, these companies have created nearly 100 jobs with more in the pipeline for 2016.
Property Deals and Construction Projects
Real Estate transactions picked up pace in 2015. We’ve recently closed the sale of two buildings — the former Navy Fitness Center and the car wash — with TBW, LLC. Earlier this year, MRRA sold two buildings — Buildings 54 and 639, totaling 33,540 SF to Doug and Linda Cardente. We also sold the former Topsham Annex Fire Station to Firehouse Tumbling and we are in the process of selling the former Navy Building 585 (Chapel) to the Brunswick Naval Museum and the former Navy Building 51 to Frosty’s Donuts. Several land deals have also been transacted, most notably, two lots near the front of campus which will be used to construct an approximately 50,000 SF memory care facility by Avita. Nearby, Rousseau Enterprises has completed renovations on the former Navy Hotel (Building 750) where it has opened Coastal Landing, a combined retirement and assisted living complex. Earlier in the year, Priority Real Estate Group completed construction of the Sunray Animal Clinic Building at 73 Admiral Fitch Avenue.
Utilities and Infrastructure
On-Site Electricity Generation Progresses
Village Green Ventures (VGV) broke ground in May 2015 on its project to construct an anaerobic digester and associated “green energy” generation facility at Brunswick Landing.
The facility is located on a 4.25-acre parcel on the south end of the parking apron of Brunswick Executive Airport and when completed will have the capacity to generate up to 1 megawatt of electricity. The plant is expected to be operational by the end of 2015 and at full capacity by the spring of 2016.
When fully operational, the facility will be capable of generating about 40% of the current electrical requirement at Brunswick Landing thereby greatly reducing or eliminating electricity delivered over CMP’s distribution grid to the campus. This project is an exciting concept and consistent with MRRA’s mission and redevelopment plan for a renewable energy center at the Brunswick Landing.
With the first on-site generation facility under construction, a few energy efficiency projects under our belt, and clean tech businesses beginning to locate here, the vision of the Brunswick Renewable Energy Center is becoming a reality.
Brunswick Landing Improvements
As part of MRRA’s on-going improvement efforts at Brunswick Landing and Topsham Commerce Park, several projects were recently completed. New gateway signage was installed at the main entrance to the property and on the northwest corner of the airport along Bath Road. An information kiosk has been constructed near the entrance to the property on Admiral Fitch Avenue to house a map of Brunswick Landing and a directory of businesses and organizations on the property. In partnership with the Town of Brunswick and Bowdoin College, a new bicycle and pedestrian connection was opened between Pine Street and Allagash Drive on the perimeter road along the northern end of the airport.
Brunswick Executive Airport
Brunswick Executive Airport (BXM) has seen significant increases in air traffic since it opened four and a half years ago, with over 15,000 flight operations forecast in 2016. There are currently 25 aircraft based at BXM.
Brunswick Executive Airport has been selected to participate in the FAA’s Military Airport Program (MAP). This program provides special funding to assist airport authorities to convert former military airfields into civilian airports. To date, the airport has received over $17 million in FAA and State grant funding for these improvements.
Recently completed projects include:
- Rehabilitation of Hangars 4 and 5 to make the facilities more energy efficient and comply with current building codes. Improvements included additional insulation of hangar doors, new roof on Hangar 4 and installation of energy efficient LED lighting in both hangars.
- Concrete and joint repairs were completed on the primary runway and taxiways.
- Storm water drainage improvements and repairs to several areas of failed drainage systems and replacement of a failing culvert on the perimeter road.
- The fire protection systems for Hangars 4, 5 and 6 were upgraded and brought into compliance with current code requirements.
- A new snow removal equipment (SRE) building will be constructed to provide maintenance and storage facilities for the airport SRE.
- Energy efficient radiant heat will be installed in Hangars 4 and 5.
- The glycol capture system will be re-commissioned to capture and recycle all aircraft deicing fluids.
- Hangar 6 doors will be refurbished to improve safety and reliability.
- Runway 1R/19L centerline lights are being removed to decrease airport operating and maintenance costs.
Future MAP projects include additional energy efficiency and safety improvements to the former Navy hangars, wildlife fence improvements, construction of a new general aviation hangar, repairing airport parking lots, additional storm water drainage improvements, maintenance of airport approach clearances, and removal of several acres of unused pavement.