Konica building in Scarborough under contract, slated for facelift, redevelopment

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SCARBOROUGH — After sitting vacant for years, the Konica Minolta building at 71 U.S. Route 1 may soon have a new owner and purpose.

The more than 60,000-square-foot, one-story building on 6.6 acres is under contract to Robert Gaudreau, owner of Hardypond Construction in Portland, whose previous projects include redevelopment of a former potato chip plant on Route 1. Though he expects to close the deal within the next few days, Gaudreau said he would not reveal the sale price until the purchase is completed.

According to Scarborough tax records, the value of the land is nearly $854,000 and the building is valued at nearly $1.46 million, for a taxable value of more than $2.3 million. The property was last sold Dec. 12, 2005, for $4 million and is currently owned by GRI Scarborough, of Portland.

“The town would like to see the vacant building be incorporated into a new proposed gateway to Scarborough, creating a statement for them as much as a use for me,” Gaudreau said.

Following the 2007 Patriot’s Day Storm, the building was used for a short time by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but for more than five years it has been empty and for sale through several brokers, Gaudreau said.

Gaudreau said he has spoken with Scarborough Economic Development Corp. President and Executive Director Harvey Rosenfeld, as well as the town manager and town planner about his intentions for the property, which will include medical and office space.

While the property is not not completely pre-leased, he said he does “have some people of interest,” adding that he was “taking baby steps to move this forward.”

The main challenge Gaudreau will face is removing about 30,000 cubic yards of ledge  to create more parking, adding considerable cost to the project, he said. Plans for the redevelopment include a new facade, paving and lighting, and he intends to build to the highest level of green standards possible, although he will not seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

The open interior will be a benefit for companies looking to locate in the reworked facility because he can put up walls anywhere to give businesses just the amount of space they need, Gaudreau said.

The project will go to the Planning Board for a sketch plan review at its Monday, June 8, meeting. It reflects an increase in parking that brings it close to the requirements for office-type uses, Town Planner Dan Bacon said.

“The problem always was that the building was particularly large for the site in relation to parking,” Bacon said.

Because Konica was a light industrial business, parking spaces were for employees. But office and medical uses require additional parking for visitors, Bacon said.

“It’s been a long time coming to see this project and this site be redeveloped,” he said. “If it’s done right, it will definitely further redevelopment and development happening in the center of Route 1 and will coordinate well with (the nearby campus of) Maine Medical Center.”

SEDCO’s Rosenfeld said the refurbished building would help define another gateway into the town. He said he has been impressed by Gaudreau’s ability to turn what had been the old Humpty Dumpty potato chip building farther north on Route 1 into the Nonesuch River Plaza.

“When I worked with him on Humpty Dumpty, I thought he was biting off too much,” Rosenfeld said, “but he made it work.”

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.