Brunswick developer purchases former Navy commissary in Topsham

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TOPSHAM — The town manager, planner and economic development director are praising last week’s sale of a former Navy commissary to a Brunswick developer.

The Midcoast Regional Development Authority closed Nov. 15 on the sale of the building and 5.6 acres of land at the Topsham Commerce Park to JHR Development.

The sale marks the first land purchase for commercial redevelopment at the former Topsham Annex of the Brunswick Naval Air Station, according to a town press release.

“It’s always a privilege to welcome a quality company, especially one, like JHR, that has shown a strong commitment to working with the community,” Town Manager Cornell Knight said in the release. “The broad public support for this project was demonstrated by lopsided Town Meeting votes, both in May and September, in favor of ordinance changes that would facilitate redevelopment of the Topsham Commerce Park.”

Voters authorized Community Development Block Grant applications on behalf of Maine Harvest Co. in May, and Wicked Joe Coffee Roasting Co. in September.

Maine Harvest’s specialty will be lightly processing and freezing locally grown produce.

“This will have a positive impact on local farmers by creating greater value for growers by increasing product shelf life, enabling producers to increase and stabilize their income by selling in the off-season to new and existing markets,” the town release said.

Wicked Joe roasts premium coffees from around the world, emphasizing on sustainable and environmentally sound manufacturing and agricultural practices, according to the town. The business sells wholesale to specialty stores and grocery chains.

A MRRA news release said the two businesses will fully lease the building, and create more than 50 new jobs.

JHR is developer of the Brunswick Station complex, including the Inn at Brunswick Station. Project Manager Mike Lyne would not disclose the purchase price of the Commissary on Wednesday.

“It has been a privilege to work with the Town of Topsham and MRRA to make this very worthwhile project a reality,” JHR owner J. Hilary Rockett Jr. said in a company press release. “I am excited by the prospects of creating a food hub in Topsham and look forward to the future success of both Maine Harvest Company and Wicked Joe Coffee.”

John Shattuck, Topsham’s economic and community development director, said it is “very exciting to have JHR leading the redevelopment of the Commissary and, we hope, the entire commercial portion of the old Annex, formerly called
the Military Triangle.

“This project wouldn’t have been possible without both JHR’s vision and commitment to redeveloping this unique property and the hard work and creativity of (MRRA Executive Director) Steve Levesque and his MRRA team in putting this transaction together.”

Town Planner Rich Roedner echoed those sentiments.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with JHR throughout the planning and permitting process, as they’ve shown consistent good will and flexibility in addressing the requirements of our ordinances,” he said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.