Buyers of former Navy properties in Brunswick, Topsham confident about demand for housing

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BRUNSWICK — A group of investors has purchased approximately 400 former U.S. Navy housing units on six properties in Brunswick and Topsham, with plans to construct 200 new units in the two towns.

Five of the properties are at Brunswick Landing, the former Brunswick Naval Air Station-turned-business campus; the other is at the former Navy Annex in Topsham.

The purchaser, Brunswick Landing Venture, bought the units from developer George Schott, of Schott Management, for an undisclosed amount on June 30.

The group was formed by Chris Rhoades of Falmouth, his business partner Andrew Preston, and investors from a Texas firm, the Presidium Group.

Rhoades said Tuesday that plans for the additional 200 units – likely a mix of two- and four-unit town homes – would be evenly split between Brunswick and Topsham.

In Brunswick, they would be constructed at a 122-acre, former mobile-home park on Neptune Drive – property the investors also bought from Schott.

In Topsham, the units are slated to replace demolished Navy housing, which was torn down a decade ago but never rebuilt.

Rhoades described plans as still in the early stages, and said the developers have yet to decide whether the Brunswick or Topsham projects would be built first. Reviews will also be required by the planning boards in each town, a process that can take several months.

Rhoades said he and his partners began eyeing the properties last fall, and were attracted by their location and job growth at Brunswick Landing.

“The geographic location is attractive because it’s on the ocean, but it’s also located within 45 minutes of (Augusta, Lewiston, and Portland),” he said in a phone interview.

The 407 existing units are fully leased, which Rhoades said indicates there is no shortage of demand for housing in the area.

The group also met with business owners on Brunswick Landing who “echoed that their employees need more housing. We’re going to attempt to satisfy the housing demand” in the construction of the 200 additional units, he added.

“All the companies that are at Brunswick Landing are all growing,” Steve Levesque, director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, said Monday. “That’s a big part of the job growth and that demand.”

Brunswick Landing has 105 businesses with almost 1,400 employees, according to a report updated last week. Roughly 80 percent of the 1.6 million square feet of property transferred to MRRA by the Navy have tenants, Levesque estimated.

Schott, who could not be reached for comment, still owns property on Brunswick Landing, according to Levesque, including the former Navy barracks and a Terminal Road building that houses FirstLight, a high-speed data center.

Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net. Follow on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

An investment group purchased more than 400 former U.S. Navy housing units in Brunswick and Topsham last month, with plans to build another 200 units across the two towns.

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Reporting on municipal, school, and community news in Brunswick and Harpswell. Bowdoin graduate, Wild Oats sandwich-eater. Callie can be reached at 207-781-3661 ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net.