South Portland armory fully leased, lures martial-arts center

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Riverview Martial Arts, which has operated in the city for more than 20 years, has signed a 10-year lease at the former National Guard armory on Broadway.

Riverview will take over the building’s entire second floor, which is 5,000 square feet, and bring the project to full occupancy.

“We were prompted to move to better serve our clients and our community. Our new space at the armory will offer many things that our current space does not,” said Drew Atripaldi, executive director of the martial arts center, now at 146 Ocean St. “We are excited to be a part of such an extraordinary project, bringing new life to a historic landmark.”

Those benefits include a “convenient location with ample parking,” Atripaldi said.

Jim Howard, president of Priority Real Estate Group of Topsham, said his company is on track to have the armory redevelopment project up and running sometime around Thanksgiving, with Riverview moving into its new space sometime in December.

Priority purchased the armory from the city for $700,000 after several plans for the property fell through, including a glass museum and a sound stage and movie studio.

The $2.5 million redevelopment plan includes adding an Irving Oil Co. gas station and Rusty Lantern Market convenience store on the first floor.

Riverview and the Rusty Lantern will be the only businesses in the refurbished building, David Latulippe, vice president of Priority, said on Wednesday. 

In addition to signing an initial 10-year lease, Atripaldi said, Riverview also has an option to lease the space for a second, 10-year term. Neither party would disclose the cost of the lease, but both Howard and Atripaldi said they are thrilled with the partnership.

“Whenever we do a development project we are always looking for ways to benefit the community,” Howard said. Riverview, which has spent “more than 20 years working with and teaching kids, was just a great fit. It fit exactly with our philosophy.”

Howard said Priority would “invest about half a million (dollars)” in building out the second-floor space for Riverview. He said the plans include some office space, two, large open studios and a conference room.

Jane Eberle, president of the South Portland/Cape Elizabeth Community Chamber of Commerce, said “Riverview has been a long-standing business in the area, a partner with the schools and has influenced scores of children who have come through their programs over the years. I think their relocation to the armory is a very good thing for them and the region.”

Atripaldi said that Riverview has been searching for “a new space to better suit our students’ needs” for the past three years. Originally, the martial arts center was in the Mill Creek Shopping Center at 50 Market St., the space now occupied by Mister Bagel.

Riverview now operates in space near the South Portland post office and City Hall that offers approximately 3,000 square feet.

The goal with new space at the armory is to offer “two martial arts training classrooms, industry-leading safety mat flooring, a parent viewing area, a front desk and retail lobby, a student lounge and ample natural light,” he said.

In addition, Atripaldi said, the new armory space “will allow us to expand programming to match our award-winning Topsham and Brunswick schools.”

The former Maine National Guard Armory at 682 Broadway in South Portland is being renovated and is fully leased.

Drew Atripaldi, of Riverview Martial Arts in South Portland, teaches classic technique to some young students. The business is moving from Ocean Street to the former armory on Broadway.