March 21, 2019
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Iconic Portland tower sells at auction for $9.3 million

Seth Koenig | BDN
Seth Koenig | BDN
The Time and Temperature Building in Portland, March 20, 2018.

Portland’s Time and Temperature Building sold at auction Thursday for $9.3 million – $3.2 million more than it was purchased for in 2016.

The identity of the buyer will not be released until the sale closes, the local realtor handling the transaction said Thursday.

Whomever purchased the 14-story tower, which was sold along with a parking garage and two adjacent buildings, will take over a property that’s defined the skyline of Maine’s largest city for nearly a century but has fallen into disrepair and seen its value drop dramatically in recent decades.

[Iconic Portland tower bound for auction block]

Although bidding for the iconic office tower played out online — anonymously and without the chant of an auctioneer — the drama of the process was palpable Thursday afternoon. During the final hour of the auction, competing parties drove up the price more than $3 million dollars before the winning bid was cast at 1:42 p.m.

“It’s really the last hour or so when the action really happens,” said broker Matthew Cardente, adding that the seller, a Maryland-based finance company, is “very pleased” and that the buyer got a “great value.”

It could take up to two month for the sale of the building to close and the buyer’s identity will be kept confidential until then, Cardente said.

The assessed tax value of Time and Temperature Building and the properties it was sold with is $8.45 million.

[Can a new owner fill Portland’s landmark Time and Temperature Building?]

At 477-481 Congress St., the Time and Temperature Building commands a prime location in Portland’s downtown and can be used as business space or converted to residences under current zoning. But more than 60 percent of its 157,000-square feet are currently unoccupied, according to a notice of offering.

Offices in the once-grand building had been emptying even before CWCapital Asset Management purchased it out of foreclosure for $6.1 million in 2016. That sum is less than half what the building fetched in 2006, and these troubles were compounded last year when it failed a city safety inspection.

Many of the 19 life safety code violations that city inspectors found last fall have since been corrected. The building, however, still lacked sprinkler on many floors when it was last inspected in February, according to city records.

A city spokeswoman said inspectors “haven’t been in the building lately.”

Still, local officials and people involved with the sale see reason to be bullish on the Time and Temperature Building.

[After failing safety inspection, iconic Maine building corrects some safety violations]

Cardente said last month that in Portland’s tight housing market he sees potential for some of it to be converted into residential space but expects the new owner will prioritize refurbishing the building and filling vacancies.

Jeff Levine, the city’s planning and urban development director, said his staff look forward to working with “whomever gets the rights to redevelop” the building.

“The high bid indicates the strength of the market and the assets of that site,” Levine said.

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Correction: This story previously misstated the time of the winning bid.

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