For the third time since 2004, local developer Tim Soley is seeking to build an office complex in the Sable Oaks development off Running Hill Road in South Portland.
The idea is to build a campus-style building that would offer on-site parking and easy access, according to Denine Leeman, chief executive officer of Soley’s development company, East Brown Cow.
Stephen Puleo, South Portland’s community planner, said that Soley’s company first received approval from the city to build an up to 45,000-square-foot office building 12 years ago.
The project was never built, and re-approval for the structure was again sought and granted in 2007, according to Puleo.
“I’ve heard, but I don’t yet have an application, that they’re proposing a very similar structure soon,” he said.
In addition to site-plan approval from the city of South Portland, the new office complex also requires a permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, which East Brown Cow is in the process of pursuing.
Leeman said that Soley and his partners purchased the land at Sable Oaks, “knowing that potential development could be a number of years out (and) before the market was tight enough to require new construction.”
She said that East Brown Cow is moving forward now because “the (office rental) rates in South Portland in that area have increased significantly over the past two years for Class A and Class B office space with parking included, (while the) vacancy rate has also reduced considerably.”
That means, Leeman said, that for “a high-end tenant, who is interested in a customized property, the financial numbers to build (new) are beginning to make sense.”
Leeman said that East Brown Cow would build to suit, which means that the building design would be up to the tenant. She anticipates that the new office building would be leased by only one tenant, but said Soley could move forward on construction with only part of the building leased if it were financially viable.
Leeman said it’s unlikely that Soley would proceed with a site-plan application to the South Portland Planning Board until a tenant is on board. She said the project is being marketed by Joe Malone at Malone Commercial Brokers.
Malone did not return a request for comment prior to the Current’s deadline, but his company is one of Greater Portland’s most prolific brokers of commercial properties.
As for the twice-aborted effort to construct the new office building at Sable Oaks, Leeman said that it’s not unusual for a developer to “complete the permitting in advance of obtaining a particular tenant” because having prior approval provides “an advantage to be able to get a potential user into the space quicker.”
She said the project “did not get built the last two times because the demand was not there yet.”
The goal is build high-end office space, although the “exact type will not be known until a user is found,” she said.
The property at 505 Sable Oaks Drive is the only lot that East Brown Cow owns in that area of South Portland. However, the company does own a number of “historic and Class A tower properties (in Portland), which are focused on being downtown where services are available within walking distance,” Leeman said.
According to its website, East Brown Cow Management Inc., and its affiliates, are a real estate management, investment and development company established in 1989 by Soley and his brothers, David and Jack.
This artist’s rendering is a concept-only plan for a new office building at Sable Oaks in South Portland.