Redevelopment Newsletter, Summer 2015: Brunswick Landing Tops 700-Jobs Milestone, TechPlace Continues to Draw Startups
Redevelopment News, Summer 2015
Executive Director’s Report
We’re a little more than four years into the redevelopment of the former Naval Air Station Brunswick, now called Brunswick Landing, and the Topsham Commerce Park. As the end of summer approaches, this is a good time for a back-to-school report on the redevelopment project. The region should be proud to know that the redevelopment effort is recognized nationally as a model for excellence in base redevelopment. The Department of Defense reports that the NAS Brunswick redevelopment effort is far ahead of all other former military bases from the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) peer group in terms of redevelopment success. We’re delighted to report that things continue to progress nicely despite the many challenges we face.
Let’s get right to the numbers. Here’s a look at the economic impact of redevelopment since the Navy left in May of 2011, just four years ago:
- 730 jobs have been created — about 60 percent more than projected four years into this project. We expect to have more than 800 employees working here in high-paying, quality positions by the end of the year.
- More than $65 million in property valuation has been added to tax rolls of the Towns of Brunswick and Topsham. That value didn’t exist when the Navy was here. More than $1.8 million in property taxes have been generated by the redevelopment effort to date.
- Brunswick Landing is now home to over 75 business entities, including 25 that are new to the State of Maine. Many of these businesses have international and multi-state reach.
- Over $150 million of private sector investment has occurred in both Brunswick and Topsham and we have attracted seven development companies to date. Another $50 million is in the planning stages for the next 12 months.
- More than $50 million in state and local contracts have been awarded for various projects at Brunswick Landing and Topsham Commerce Park.
- TechPlace, Brunswick’s technology accelerator/manufacturing business incubator for start-ups, opened at the beginning of the year and already has 18 new innovative businesses.
- Brunswick Executive Airport, which opened April 2011 while the Navy was still here, has grown steadily to nearly 14,000 air operations (takeoffs/landings). This equates to more fuel sales, airport jobs, and more planes based here. The Town of Brunswick benefits from significant excise tax collected from owners of planes registered at BXM.
- Southern Maine Community College established its Midcoast Campus at Brunswick Landing with its world-class composites program and research lab. More than 900 students attend classes at SMCC.
While the economy has improved, MRRA has also lightened its carbon footprint. We purchase 100 percent renewable energy to power Brunswick Landing. By the end of the year, MRRA will be generating approximately 50 percent of its electricity needs using an anaerobic digester facility being built by Village Green Ventures. The digester will help the area dispose of excess organic waste and sewer sludge, which will eventually help save local rate payers and business owners money while offering tenants at Brunswick Landing a more stable, lower cost electricity rate than they’ll find anywhere else in the region.
Space is filling up rapidly at Brunswick Landing, but we still have plenty of fine facilities available for aerospace, composites, advanced manufacturing, biotech, IT and other industries. We expect to receive even more property from the Navy by the end of the year or early 2016. MRRA now owns about 1,400 acres and more than 900,000 square feet of building space. We continue to convey property to the private sector, which spurs more activity. For example, we currently have more than $45 million worth of construction projects currently underway on the property. That provides a significant short-term boost to the local economy. Developers like Jim Howard, George Schott, Tom Wright, Mitch Rousseau and Doug Cardente are investing millions in former Navy property and their pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit is very much appreciated.
Our public works crew has been working extremely hard this summer to keep Brunswick Landing looking great. Aside from beautification efforts, MRRA public works is equally focused on improving our infrastructure, which in many cases, is crumbling due to age and neglect. Unexpected issues with the power grid, water, sewer and stormwater systems cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars, but we’ve made good headway with eliminating unaccounted for electricity usage, also known as vampires. We continue working to solve some of our inflow and infiltration (I&I) problems, which plague our stormwater and sanitary sewer systems. We’ve started tracking some of our key performance metrics. If you’d like to follow our progress, we keep a document called the MRRA Dashboard on our website and update it quarterly. And as always, if you have any questions or suggestions, let us know.
Lastly, we are all very excited about the being the host site for the Great State of Maine Air Show featuring the U.S Navy Blue Angels on Labor Day weekend. This is a spectacular event that brings thousands of people to our community and has a huge impact on the local economy. We look forward to seeing you there.
Great State of Maine Air Show Highlights Maine Aviation Month
Tickets are still available for the Great State of Maine Air Show, which will be held at Brunswick Landing on Sept. 5-6. The Air Show, along with the International Seaplane Fly-In to be held Sept. 10-11 in Greenville, prompted the State of Maine to designate September Maine Aviation Month. Tickets to the Air Show, which is managed by the Air Show Network, can be purchased online at greatstateofmaineairshow.us. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels are this year’s featured performers.
Business Booming at TechPlace
Brunswick Landing’s Technology Accelerator continues to attract entrepreneurs who are setting up shop in the 95,000 SF former Navy Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Department building. TechPlace now contains 18 businesses. With several more leases pending, we should have more than 20 companies by the end of the year. Improvements to TechPlace are ongoing. We recently installed a new kitchen and we added some trees to the front of the building. On deck: a wet lab and shared manufacturing space.
Hangar 4 Receives Much Needed Facelift, Energy Efficiency Upgrades
Hangar 4, with more than 60,000 SF of space, is the third largest hangar at Brunswick Landing. It’s also 33 years old and has shown its age in recent years. That’s about to change. We’re in the process of a $4 million upgrade on Hangar 4’s roof systems, doors, and heating systems. We’ve already installed LED lighting throughout the hangar bay. We’ll repaint and epoxy the floor as a finishing touch and be ready to accept tenants into what will essentially be a brand new hangar. Learn more about Hangar 4, download spec sheet »
Featured property: 35,000 SF Manufacturing Facility at 54 Orion Street
This 35,295 SF building (former Navy Building 86), located at 54 Orion Street, would make a great facility for an advanced composites product manufacturer. It has direct access to a secured flight line, 14 overhead doors (up to 16 feet height), overhead cranes, vehicle lifts, paint booth, welding and blast rooms, and some nice office space on the second story mezzanine. In addition, it has 3-phase power, significant single mode fiber connectivity, and an emergency back-up generator. Take a look at Building 86 spec sheet and set up a tour.
Annual MRRA Open House Draws Crowd for Redevelopment Update
We held our Annual Open House and Cookout on August 19th at the Maine Technology Institute building. It was a well-attended event with delicious food from Finest Kind Caterers, prizes, and bus tours of the airport and Brunswick Landing. MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque gave two redevelopment updates to the audience and fielded many questions from the crowd of about 70 attendees. Overall, it was a fun time and we can’t wait until next summer’s event.
Village Green Ventures Making Good Progress on Renewable Energy Plant
The anaerobic digester project is going smoothly so far. Village Green Ventures (VGV) broke ground in June and is on schedule to have the plant up and running by the end of the year. Concrete has been poured and now the work crews are assembling the metal tanks and machinery that will be used to store and “digest” organic waste and create methane gas used to fuel power generation turbines. Once fully operational, the power plant will be able to generate up to 1 megawatt of electricity, or about half of the current power load that MRRA manages. The power purchase agreement we have with VGV will help keep rates lower than average, another huge benefit to being located at Brunswick Landing. Read story in Portland Press Herald »
Maine Flying Trail Continues This Summer
Brunswick Executive Airport and the Maine Aviation Business Association (MABA) are delighted to once again present the Maine Flying Trail Passport Program. MABA has recently sent Passport booklets to airports and seaplane bases throughout the State of Maine. This program is a great way to encourage pilots to visit the many airports and seaplane bases located throughout the state. Pilots are rewarded with two free lobsters after they fly into at least five participating airports. The program runs until Oct 31, 2015. It’s free to participate. Pilots must fly to BXM to turn in their completed passports and collect their lobsters. More info.
MRRA Unveils New Signs on Front of Brunswick Landing
We recently installed a colorful new entrance sign on the intersection of Admiral Fitch and Bath Road. The sign is a big upgrade on the previous brown design, which was difficult to see from a distance. We also installed a slightly smaller sign just off the airfield on a small hill adjacent to the airport off Bath Road. Both signs are lit by energy efficient bulbs. Also in the works is an information kiosk, which will contain a large map of Brunswick Landing. The kiosk will be located on the west side of Admiral Fitch Ave. where the street curves to the north near the speed bump.
MRRA, Town of Brunswick Open North Perimeter Trail to Bikers, Pedestrians
We have opened the Seabee gate at the end of Allgash Drive to bike/pedestrian access along the north perimeter road parallel to Bath Road. This allows cyclists and pedestrians to safely reach Brunswick Landing from town (and vice versa) via Pine Street. Work will continue to improve access on the Pine Street end with a 14-foot paved path under construction. For now, both MRRA and the Town of Brunswick are using Jersey barriers to prevent vehicular traffic at both ends of the newly opened thoroughfare, which is about 4,000 feet in length. These barriers will eventually be replaced with removable bollards. View map. Note: This path will be closed during the Air Show.