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February 21, 2018

Ocean Gate Plaza's new life is paying off

Photo / Matthew Cardente
Photo / Matthew Cardente
Ocean Gate Plaza, 511 Congress St., is reaping benefits of rebranding, renovation.

Recent new leases at Ocean Gate Plaza, at 511 Congress St. in Portland, mean the building is completely occupied — something that can be directly attributed to the vision and effort of the building's four-year owner, said Matt Cardente, of Cardente Real Estate in Portland.

And that's only part of the story — owner Ed Gardner also recently got approval for a 300-space parking garage behind the building, with an entrance on Brown Street.

Gardner bought the building in 2014, and rebranded it Ocean Gate Plaza — seeing it as the gateway between the city's arts district and the financial district. He also changed what type of tenants are on plaza-level ground floor and upgraded the building's interior.

"It's a Cinderella story," Cardente told Mainebiz on Tuesday. "He took a good, solid building that looked a little tired, and he brought new synergy, new life to it."

In the past several weeks, longtime anchor tenant AMEC Foster Wheeler, signed a new lease for 41,718 square feet of Class A office space.

Cardente said the London-based engineering technology company's space was reconfigured slightly, but it's primarily the same space. The company occupies almost a third of the 130,000-square-foot, nine story building at the corner of Congress and Brown streets.

AMEC Foster Wheeler was joined by tenant Model N, a San Mateo, Calif.-based revenue management company that recently leased 9,827 square feet in the building. Revistas, which was acquired by Model N last fall, had held the old lease.

MuniciPAY in December leased 3,300 square feet that had been part of a larger space, but was recently subdivided. Another 1,200 square feet on the fifth floor that was part of that larger space has been split up into smaller offices.

The recent flurry of leasing activity is a continuation of movement over the past year and a half.

In 2016, when law firm Hopkinson & Abbondanza, a longtime tenant, left, CashStar took over the 5,183 square feet the law firm had occupied on the 8th floor.

Around the same, time, another law firm, Troubh Heisler, leased 11,523 square feet on the 7th floor.

Old space made new

Photo  / Cardente Real Estate
Photo / Cardente Real Estate
An artist rendering of the 300-space parking garage planned for Brown Street in Portland, behind Ocean Gate Plaza.

Gardner has, over the past three and a half years, changed the ground-floor retail space, which embraces a plaza area on Congress Street, Cardente said.

The space was mostly office space or vacant when Gardner bought the building. New tenants over the past few years are retail or high-visibility office space, including Soakology, the Golden Lotus restaurant and Embrace Home Loans.

He also brightened up the lobby, transforming it from a "dark, bland" space to a bright, exciting one, Cardente said. Gardner's real estate business, Ocean Gate Realty and The Yoga Exchange now are in the first-floor lobby space.

The parking garage is expected to be completed this year. It's five levels, with 300 spaces, and replaces a surface parking lot. It will be primarily for tenants during the day, but also be open for public parking after hours.

"From the very start, [Gardner] definitely had a vision and he stuck with it," Cardente said. He said that with the changes, the building "has sold itself."

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