AUGUSTA

September 17, 2010

New building to consolidate many MaineGeneral services

Tax break for developer will net thousands

By Keith Edwards kedwards@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- A new, approximately $8.5 million building under construction in front of the Central Maine Commerce Center on Civic Center Drive will consolidate multiple MaineGeneral medical services in one location.

click image to enlarge

Peachey Builders workers Ken Elwell, left, and Mackenize Dunton pin beams in bolts Thursday for a steel frame building under construction on Civic Center Drive in Augusta. Mattson Development is erecting the structure at a cost between 8 and 9 million dollars to be leased by medical practices, according to Mattston chief operating officer Bill Dowling. Dowling said the first phase of "state of the art" medical facility for MaineGeneral will be complete in March and the second part of the project will be complete in June.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

The 51,000-square-foot building is being built by Mattson Development and will be leased to MaineGeneral.

The project is part of a potentially larger commercial subdivision that benefited from a city tax break, and which the developer hopes could bring more projects and more jobs.

In 2008, Mattson Development's Kevin Mattson told the City Council the new building is the start of what he hopes will be the development of some 1 million square feet of new building space near the Commerce Center, a former computer manufacturing plant, over the next 10 years.

"That's what we're looking to do," William Dowling, chief operating officer for Mattson Development, said of the potential for future development similar to the building now under construction. "We have, out here now as part of the Commerce Center, an 18-lot subdivision that's already been approved."

The new building will be completed in two phases: The first phase and first floor will be ready in March; the second phase and second floor in June.

Approximately 80 to 90 workers are involved in the construction, Dowling said, noting it is one of the larger building projects in Augusta in some time. The project is financed by Bangor Savings Bank.

MaineGeneral will lease the entire building, consolidating services now offered at multiple sites in Augusta in one location, according to Paul Stein, administrative director of support services for MaineGeneral.

"We're relocating a lot of departments that are now spread throughout the system and putting them in one location, for the convenience of patients," Stein said. "To get all those different departments in one building, we needed the square footage, and (Mattson) had that building already designed. And the location was a factor. It has easy access, very good exposure, too."

Services including orthopedics, physical and occupational therapy, sports medicine, imaging and rehabilitation will likely locate on the first floor, with occupational medicine and Augusta Family Medicine among the services to locate on the second floor, according to Mary Melville, administrative director for orthopedics and rehabilitation services for MaineGeneral.

She said about 100 employees will work in the new building.

MaineGeneral will move those services to the new building from current sites in Augusta that include Colwell Road and Sewall Street.

The building site is not within the city's medical zoning district, but is a relatively short distance from the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care and the proposed site of MaineGeneral's new hospital.

Stein said the relocated services would remain in the building regardless of whether the proposed new hospital is built.

Initial plans for the building were that it would meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design environmental standards certified by the U.S. Green Building Council as a "green" building.

However, Dowling said it proved too complicated to obtain the LEED certification.

The building, he noted, is still being built to be very energy efficient.

"It's not going to be a LEED building but it will be close to it, as far as energy efficiency," Dowling said. "Our real concern is to build an energy efficient building. That's what counts."

In 2008, councilors approved a tax increment financing, or TIF, agreement granting a tax break to help spur development of the subdivision.

The 20-year deal could give the developer a tax break worth $56,000 or more a year if the subdivision is fully developed.

Mattson, at the time, said the TIF was needed to help pay for some $700,000 in road improvements required for the project to get state approval.

Law allows municipalities to capture new property tax revenues generated by new development within a designated district. TIFs also allow municipalities to delay decreases in state aid to education and other revenue sharing which would otherwise occur due to increased property values coming with the new development.

In this case, the city would return 50 percent of the new tax dollars generated by the development over 20 years to Mattson, and keep the other 50 percent to be used for future city infrastructure improvements in the area.

Keith Edwards -- 621-5647

kedwards@centralmaine.com

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