May 26, 2019
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Bangor Mall renews another major tenant lease

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Hannaford became the latest Bangor Mall tenant to renew its lease, following JC Penney. Industry analysts see the lease renewals as a positive sign for the troubled mall.

Supermarket chain Hannaford has renewed its lease at the Bangor Mall, according to the company running the mall.

“Hannaford has renewed for multiple years at the Bangor Mall so they will continue to provide a superior food shopping venue to the Bangor residents,” Frederick Meno, president and CEO of the Woodmont Company, the Texas-based firm that is running the mall, said in an email.

A Penobscot County Superior Court judge in July appointed the Fort Worth, Texas, company to act as a receiver for the mall, meaning it is managing all mall operations on behalf of its current owner, MSCI 2007-IQ16 Stillwater Avenue LLC.

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Meno is in charge of Woodmont’s efforts to operate, manage, protect and conserve the mall property. That includes getting tenants and leases for the mall with the approval of MSCI.

The lease for one of the four anchor tenants, JC Penney, also was renewed for multiple years recently, he said in November.

Meno said it still is too early to announce any developments regarding the leasing of the former Sears anchor tenant space.

Renewal of the JC Penney lease, which was up Feb. 28, 2019, was one of the milestones industry analysts were watching to see whether the Bangor Mall might be on the mend. The other is the renewal of the lease for Dick’s Sporting Goods, which is up Jan. 31, 2020.

“If JC Penney and Dick’s renew their leases it’s a good sign,” said Manus Clancy, senior managing director for Trepp, a New York-based data analysis firm that tracks commercial real estate mortgages. He made the remark in October, when the Bangor Mall’s appraised value was lowered 22 percent by the city of Bangor from $60.9 million to $47.4 million because of empty stores.

JC Penney, Dick’s and Furniture Mattress & More are the three remaining anchor stores in the mall. The fourth store, Sears, closed in April, and the Sears Auto Center closed in November.

The four anchor stores occupy the most space in the mall, and Hannaford has the fifth-largest space, occupying 48,868 square feet, or a little more than 9 percent of the mall, according to Trepp.

In an updated status comment on the mall in Trepp’s December report, LNR, a Miami-based company that handles troubled loans, noted that the mall’s owners were interested in providing the lender with a debt in lieu of foreclosure, meaning they essentially would hand over the deed to the mall property to the lender.

The mall’s owners defaulted on an $80 million loan in October 2017.

The debt in lieu of foreclosure differs from a standard foreclosure proceeding in that it is not as public, is quicker and is potentially less damaging to the mall’s reputation.

It is not clear yet whether the lenders have agreed to the proposal. Meno said that as a receiver, he is not directly involved in the proceedings and could not comment on them.

Trepp’s Clancy said a deed in lieu of foreclosure is a cooperative form of foreclosure.

“Instead of contesting the foreclosure, the borrower just hands back the keys so to speak,” he said in an email. “Once the borrower takes it back there are two possible directions: auction it off or try to stabilize the property and lease it back up.”

The Woodmont Company has the mall listed for lease on its website.

Maine Technology Institute cites record investments in fiscal 2018

The Maine Technology Institute, which funds innovative companies, said it had a record year in fiscal 2018 in terms of the money it awarded and impacts of it.

The publicly funded nonprofit organization, based in Brunswick, said in its annual report for fiscal 2018 ended June 31 that it invested more than $57 million in 175 projects.

“This was a record award and impact year for MTI as the organization typically invests anywhere from $6-10 million in any given year,” the report said.

MTI said the extra funds for fiscal 2018 came because MTI administered the $45 million research and development infrastructure bond that was passed by the Legislature in 2016 and approved by Maine voters in 2017.

MTI launched the Maine Technology Asset Fund 2.0 competition for the funds, and received nearly 200 proposals seeking a total of $400 million in funding. The applications came from companies in each of Maine’s 16 counties.

MTI said it made 18 awards that, according to an independent economic impact analysis, will create 5,350 jobs and generate $1.4 billion in economic impact over the next three years.

“This has been an incredible year for MTI and Maine’s innovation economy,” Brian Whitney, MTI’s president, said. “Our rigorous review and award process provides entrepreneurs and companies with a critical validation of their innovation that helps them secure needed follow-on funding from traditional lenders and investors.”

Housing market still hot, but rising interest rates are cause for caution

Single family homes in Maine continue to increase in value, according to Maine Listings.

The median sales price for homes sold across the state in November hit $219,000, up 9.5 percent compared to November 2017, the group said on Dec. 17.

The median sales price indicates that half of the homes sold for less and half for more.

The number of homes sold statewide rose 2.9 percent to 1,621 over the same time period.

In Penobscot County, Bangor had the highest unit sales in November with 28, said Kim Gleason, president of the Main Association of Realtors and broker/owner of McAllister Real Estate in Hallowell.

That’s down from the 33 sold last November.

Gleason said there is no specific reason for the decrease.

“People still are interested in buying,” she said. “But interest rates are going up and there is uncertainty in the market.”

She also said that in general, sales slow down after an election.

But overall she said real estate continues to be a good investment, because the value of homes is increasing steadily long-term and staying ahead of the volatility of other types of investments.

The National Association of Realtors reported a sales dip of 6.7 percent nationally from November 2017 to November 2018. However, the median sales price was up 5 percent to $260,500 over that time period.

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