In multi-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 Wayfair at Brunswick Landing. A conversation with Priority Real Estate Group.
MEREDA: Describe the building and project.
Priority Real Estate Group: Wayfair resides in a 50,000 square foot building that was renovated and rebuilt in a mere 16 weeks. Currently, Wayfair occupies 42,000 sq ft, with the balance of 8,000 sq ft to be finished in the next 36-48 months. The 550-seat, state of the art E-commerce Center employs over 200 with an additional 300 expected in the next few years. This location has business-to-business sales and services offices with additional office space for support staff, supplier operations, human resource and information technology. Not only did we complete the renovation and rebuild, but we also had to accommodate for a parking lot to handle 550 employees. We had room for 250 spaces, and with help from MRRA, we tore down nearby buildings to create parking spaces for 300 more.
MEREDA: What was the impetus for this project?
Priority Real Estate Group: Wayfair was looking for a location to support their growth in the e-commerce home and office furnishings division. Wayfair, through their site location firm Cresa of Boston, contacted Maine and Company, a private, non-profit corporation comprised of Maine businesses who then contacted PREG to see if this project could be completed. There were two other states, North Carolina and Texas, that were competing for the E-commerce Center contract. Maine’s reputation for their work ethic and quality of life along with Brunswick Landing being a designated Military Redevelopment Zone, were incentives to locate in Maine. Another noteworthy mention is the ability for one to take the Amtrack train from North Station in Boston directly to Brunswick, Maine, making for easy accessibility to Wayfair’s Maine E-commerce center.
MEREDA: That sounds like quite a process. How long were you in the planning stages before construction started?
Priority Real Estate Group: Our team met with Wayfair at their Boston location at Copley Square. It took 6 months to negotiate a lease, design and plan for this real estate project. Along with PREG, Maine’s Department of Economic & Community Development, Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, as well as the office of the Governor all joined together to take this project from conception to reality.
MEREDA: Tell us about the most challenging aspect of getting this project completed.
Priority Real Estate Group: The project was challenging because an accelerated timeline was needed to get Wayfair in the building and up and running by June 2016. The demolition work commenced in February and was completed in mid-March. The rehabilitation to meet the standards required for Wayfair started after that and was completed for occupancy on the first of June. It’s important to note that the Navy had different building standards and codes, which forced us to bring the building up to current municipal and state standards. We ran into asbestos on the outside walls. This required a special crew and added time to rectify the situation. Additionally, the Navy Exchange was a former grocery store which required us to remove coolers, which added an additional burden to our workload. We also had to add technology for 550 computers which resulted in 42 miles of cable being installed in the new facility. Overall, the biggest challenge was having 150 people on the job site for weeks on end, and managing every aspect, right down to planting the purple and white petunias (Wayfair’s colors).
MEREDA: Something unexpected you learned along the way was….
Priority Real Estate Group: The immediate impact that this project had on the community. We’ve been developing for so long now, that there are few unexpected surprises in our projects. Working with a publicly traded company requires additional approvals and disclosure which adds to the overall time frame. We worked through that process in the first 6 months. During construction, we ran into asbestos, we installed miles and miles of cable, we operated under a tight deadline and succeeded in completing a renovation/rebuild of a 50,000 square foot space as well as created a brand new parking lot. Once the doors opened, the most unexpected thing in my mind was the immediate economic and social impact Wayfair brought to the community of Brunswick and the Midcoast area. People are renting and buying houses, restaurants are busier, school enrollment is up, local businesses are seeing increased foot traffic. This positive impact to the local economy will only continue as Wayfair completes their hiring of the next 300 employees.
MEREDA: Now that it’s complete, what feature of the project do you think makes it the most notable?
Priority Real Estate Group: This was a substantial project in many ways, and it all came together seamlessly. Maine’s workforce reputation and the ability to complete the Wayfair vision in a very short timeframe is a testament to all those involved. But beyond the construction, the numerous jobs created, and their immediate impact on the Midcoast area is extremely exciting. This project transcended the normal timeline of a real estate redevelopment project. It took a great team…from ME & Co., MRRA, DECD, the Office of the Governor to every individual who played a part in this success story to allow Wayfair to call Brunswick Landing their home.