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April 9, 2018

Historic church turned into apartments sells for $4.3M

Courtesy / Vitalius Real Estate Group
Courtesy / Vitalius Real Estate Group
A 1926 church redeveloped into apartments, at 3 Pleasant St., Portland, sold for $4.3 million.
Courtesy / Vitalius Real Estate Group
Clark on Pleasant’s interior features lofty ceilings and original trusses and beams.

PORTLAND — A church in Portland that was redeveloped to retain original features has sold to an out-of-town buyer for $4.3 million.

The development, called The Clark on Pleasant, is at 3 Pleasant Ave. in Portland. It's the former Clark Memorial United Methodist Church, a historic building designed by John Calvin Stevens and converted in recent years by Hardypond Construction of Portland into a multi-family structure with 25 apartments.

Hardypond owner Deirdre Wadsworth, a 2017 Mainebiz Woman to Watch, told Mainebiz in 2017 that she and her crew retained many original elements of the structure — for example, configuring apartments in ways that showcased the original wood beams and a Tiffany stained glass window that was formerly part of the sanctuary.

Hardypond Development Co. LLC sold the property to Suzanne Hanson, a long-time investor who splits her time between New York City and California, where she also owns apartment complexes. Hanson bought the property as part of an Internal Revenue Code 1031 exchange, which allows investors to reinvest proceeds from a previous property sale into a new property and defer capital gains taxes.

Brit Vitalius of Vitalius Real Estate Group represented both sides of the transaction, which closed Feb. 20.

Vitalius said the off-peninsula property was on the market for about a year and received moderate interest.

"I think we expected from the beginning that the ideal buyer would be someone with a 1031 exchange," he said. "Many active investors right now are looking for opportunities to add value to their investments and increase the equity of their cash flow. Having a newly renovated property didn't really leave much for a buyer to do. So we saw this as a modest return in an easy-to-own investment."

Unit price higher than comparable sales

Courtesy / Suzanne Hanson
Courtesy / Suzanne Hanson
Suzanne Hanson, an investor who splits her time between New York City and California, bought Clark on Pleasant as part of a 1031 exchange.

Vitalius also noted that, while the $4.3 million price was high on a per-unit basis relative to other sales, at an average of $172,000 per unit, "It's also one of the only sales that I'm aware of that's essentially a completely new property" with all systems built to high standards.

The 17,582-square-foot building, built in 1926, is on 0.36 acre and has apartments ranging from 596 to 963 square feet. Showmetherent.com, an online residential real estate site, advertises one-bedroom apartments at both ends of the size range at $1,700. Amenities include a laundry room, mail room and parking lot with 25 spaces.

The property was fully tenanted when Hanson bought it.

Reached by phone while in California, Hanson explained that she sold an apartment complex in Texas in order to buy the Portland property on the 1031 exchange.

Hanson said she also spends quite a bit of time in Boston, and decided to look for interesting properties in the region. That brought her to the Portland property, which she discovered on a web search.

"I was looking for a unique property in a good neighborhood," she said. "I thought, architecturally, this was very interesting."

Hanson said she loved the apartment units.

"They're not just regular apartments," she said. "They're like artist lofts in some ways. The apartments vary in size and the floor plans are more open. And although it's all new construction, there are details of the church left inside, like the windows. The Tiffany round window is gorgeous. And some of the big beams and struts have been left, to show that it was a church. But otherwise it's very modern and very up-to-date."

She said she also loves the neighborhood.

"It's in a beautiful neighborhood, backed up to houses built in the 1920s," she said.

And she likes the community garden out front.

"It's nice way for people who have to live in an apartment to participate in gardening without having to go a long way to a community garden," she said.

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