The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Falmouth Schools Redevelopment Project

by Jessica Estes, CBRE | The Boulos Company

In the first of a 7-part series exclusive to the Maine Real Estate Insider, we’ll provide an up-close look at the most notable commercial development projects of the past year that are helping to fuel Maine’s economy in terms of investment and job creation.  MEREDA is proud to recognize responsible development based upon criteria including environmental sustainability, economic impact, energy efficiency, social impact and job creation.  Please join with us in celebrating Falmouth Schools Redevelopment Project.  A conversation with developer, OceanView at Falmouth.

MEREDA:     Describe the building and project.

OceanView at Falmouth:  The former site of the Falmouth elementary schools was a twenty acre parcel abutting OceanView at Falmouth.  When this property became available, John Wasileski submitted a successful request for proposal bid to the Town of Falmouth. A Purchase and Sale Agreement was signed in January, 2012 with the closing in March, 2013. The multi-phased redevelopment of this property includes two distinct development programs, 1) Standard OceanView Projects and 2) Public/Private Partnerships. Blueberry Commons consists of three interconnected buildings, with a total 36 units between 1100 and 1800 square feet in size.  These spacious two bedroom apartments have balconies and fireplaces.  The Blueberry Commons buildings have underground or covered parking, are super-energy efficient with triple pane windows and solar hot water systems, and are connected to our OceanView Main Lodge with heated and air conditioned corridors. Over 85% of all construction debris was also recycled by our General Contractor, Landry French Construction.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project?

OceanView at Falmouth:  With a growing senior demographic due to the aging Baby Boom generation, there is an increasing need for spacious, independent apartments and cottages.   We have also recognized a strong need for specialized memory care as a part of our care continuum. With the acquisition of the Falmouth School property, OceanView was able to develop a coordinated master plan to incorporate some of these needs including: the construction of a new and unique product on the OceanView campus — Blueberry Commons — energy efficient, large all corner apartments with balconies, fireplaces and underground parking; Legacy Memory Care and the renovation of Lunt School as professional office space. The new retirement living residences expand our community’s niche in providing a wide variety of housing styles, sizes and prices. This acquisition also created a private/public partnership with the Town of Falmouth to provide mutually beneficial spaces including the Village Green and Lunt Auditorium. In addition, new common areas for OceanView residents are always part of John Wasileski’s development strategy for new neighborhoods in order to provide benefits to existing residents.  This strategic vision will maintain the leadership of OceanView on the forefront of Maine’s retirement industry.

MEREDA:  That sounds like quite a process.  How long were you in the planning stages before construction started?

OceanView at Falmouth:  The process took about a year and a half before construction began. The planning started back in Jan. 2012. Once we received the approval for the purchase, the Purchase and Sale Agreement was signed in January, 2013 with the closing occurring in March, 2013. Pre-marketing efforts started in September, 2012 with enough reservations and deposits to begin construction upon closing in March, 2013.

Pre-Approval schedule detail (for example) shown in highlights below:

Successful RFP and signed P&S Agreement                 — Nov 2012 to Jan 2013

Removal of Land & Water Conservation Restriction       — Jan 2012 to Nov 2012

Rezoning of Property                                                   — Mar to May 2012

Preliminary Design                                                      — Mar to May 2012

Site Plan & Subdivision Approvals of Phase 1              — Jun 2012 to Jan 2013

DEP Master Plan Approval                                          — Jun 2012 to Jan 2013

Report on Public-Private Partnership Feasibility             — Dec 2012

Closing on Property                                                     — March 2013

One year on the Request for Proposal Response, Re-Zoning, and Planning Board Process and six months on design, planning, and implementation.

MEREDA:  Tell us about the most challenging aspect of getting this project completed.

OceanView at Falmouth:  Winter Construction Conditions in 2014, along with coordinating resident customizations and selections (OceanView takes pride in offering a variety of unique customization options!)

MEREDA:  Something unexpected you learned along the way was.

OceanView at Falmouth:  One important thing we learned during the development of the project is the importance of being pro-active in anticipating and communicating changes or issues that may arise.  This is true with the pre-development planning, the entire construction process, the sales and move-in procedures. If you are on top of changes that may occur and communicate those to all involved, the project goes extremely smoothly. Basically, good communication is the key to success!

MEREDA:  Now that it’s complete, what feature of the project do you think makes it the most notable?

OceanView at Falmouth:  The Falmouth Schools Redevelopment Project incorporates many different features that have blended beautifully with our existing OceanView campus. The expanded services that are now available to our growing resident population have been enhanced by the beautiful new Lunt Auditorium, specialized services at Legacy Memory Care, and Southern Maine Agency on Aging’s Stewart Center which provides day services to those with dementia, both from inside and outside the OceanView community. The comfort and efficiency of the Blueberry Commons apartments is extraordinary with super-insulation and triple pane windows, maintaining a comfortable temperature in the summer heat and winter cold and allowing our new residents living there to access the Lodge buildings, amenities and meal options without having to go outside.

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