Rock Row (née The Ridge, née Dirigo Plaza) | Westbrook, ME

GIL

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I'm normally an optimistic individual and have been consistent with my cautious approval of Rock Row and Thompson's Point over the years. However, the actual reality of an 8 story hotel, 10 and 14 story office towers, and a 5000 seat event center are very ambitious in my opinion. The Fidelity Building at 85,000 sf cannot find office tenants and is forced to convert to residential. It is located in a prime downtown location where the masses want to be and the available leasing deals were in the $16-17 per square foot range. Not sure how a developer will be able to fill 400,000 sf of office space (equivilant to 3 One City Centers) at Class A rates overlooking the Maine Turnpike and we can use the UNUM campus as an example of how difficult the task can be. I do think the medical offices, the food hall and the residential elements are viable and you can stick a hotel anywhere near the interstate and it can succeed. My other concern is the positive progress that has been made in downtown Westbrook over the past decade and how this massive retail, dining and entertainment complex will impact it. Hard for me to envision any visitors to Rock Row pausing to a take bus, trolly or train for an excursion into Westbrook's Main Street for sightseeing, shopping or dining. I do love the the quarry walk and the connection to Portland Trails!
Yes, but to bring a 1920s structure up to Class A Office quality would be massively expensive if even possible, while building from ground up that same level of finish can be achieved much much more economically and provide the experience that up-market office tenants expect and that their own employees demand. I don't think it's bad at all to bring more residential into Monument Square in the Fidelity. That said, it *is* odd that Three Portland Square at least appears not to be leasing, since that one will be ground-up construction with "all mod. cons." but maybe that would lease faster if it were built as lab space. All to say, I think the Rock Row "medical district" may still succeed where peninsula properties are still struggling for office tenants.
 

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