July 19, 2013

Richmond lobster processor's lease with Portland to create 69 jobs

BY J. CRAIG ANDERSON

BY J. CRAIG ANDERSON

Portland Press Herald

The city of Portland has approved two lease agreements with seafood-processing companies that are projected to bring dozens of jobs to the Maine State Pier and generate millions of dollars in revenue for the city.

A 15-year lease agreement with Shucks Maine Lobster will allow the Richmond-based seafood-processing firm to open an 18,800-square-foot processing facility inside the pier's Portland Ocean Terminal next spring.

According to public documents, Shucks plans to hire 60 part-time and nine full-time workers and will pay the city an annual lease rate of $202,100 in 2014 with a 2 percent rate increase each year thereafter.

Another lease agreement, with Portland-based Ready Seafood Co., will allow the company to expand its existing operations on the pier next year.

Ready Seafood, which already leases 11,200 square feet from the city inside Portland Ocean Terminal, will expand its footprint to 24,000 square feet.

The company did not specify how many jobs the expansion would add to its existing operation. Ready Seafood opened an additional plant in Scarborough in September, which it has said would increase its processing capacity to about 1 million pounds this year.

Ready Seafood's annual lease payment for the Maine State Pier facility will increase from the current rate of about $120,000 to $258,000 in 2014, with a 2 percent increase each year thereafter.

The lease agreement expires in December 2017 with options to extend it through 2028.

Shucks Maine Lobster CEO John Hathaway said the company will have to do a significant amount of construction work to convert the existing terminal space into its second processing plant. Hathaway said his plan is to open the Portland plant in the spring, which will double the company's processing capacity.

The company, which currently employs 65 to 70 seasonal workers at its Richmond plant, processes lobster for sale to food retailers.

In 2012, Maine lobstermen hauled a record 123 million pounds of lobster, up 18 percent from the previous year. The haul was so big that it lowered the average price per pound from $3.19 in 2011 to $2.69 in 2012.

Hathaway said having a location in Portland is appealing because of the city's excellent reputation as a center of quality seafood cuisine.

"Portland's got great energy, and there are great chefs and food culture," he said. "Being a small part of the Portland working waterfront is a story we want to share with our customers."

Both the Shucks Maine Lobster and Ready Seafood lease agreements include options to lease additional space inside the 88,635-square-foot terminal if desired at an annual rate of $10.75 per square foot, plus a 2 percent yearly increase.

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