ROCKPORT — Marianne and Stuart Smith, of Camden, have entered a purchase and sales agreement with the real estate subsidiary of Leucadia Development Corp. for the the Shepherd Block in Rockport Village, and for the two vacant lots on either side of that historic brick building. The deal is expected to close in late July.
“We love historical buildings and we knew Leucadia wanted to sell,” said Stuart Smith, May 16. “In Camden, Marianne and I have been concerned about keeping commercial space commercial.”
The Smiths, along with their son, Tyler, who manages many of the real estate projects that the family has underway, have just opened their most recent enterprise, 16 Bay View, a new hotel that resulted from renovations to the old Bay View Cinema brick block in downtown Camden.
But Stuart Smith said they had no plans to change the use of the Shepherd Block.
“We will keep working with them and keeping them there,” he said. “We are buying the Shepherd building as an investment.”
No hotel there?
“No,” he said.
In addition to 16 Bay View, the Smiths own the Lord Camden Inn and the Grand Harbor Inn, in Camden, and have plans to construct a new hotel on Rockland Harbor, although that project is on hold for the time being.
“Probably not for a while,” he said.
Smith declined to discuss the purchase price of the Shepherd Block. The commercial building property, at 18 Central Street, is assessed by the town at $1.3 million. The Smiths will be owning the block as an LLC.
Current tenants at the Shepherd Block are Bay Chamber Concerts, several small businesses in offices upstairs, and the former Shepherd’s Pie restaurant.
The latter is, however, changing.
“Shepherd’s Pie will have a new tenant,” said Smith. “But, I’m not at liberty to comment.”
The Shepherd’s Pie restaurant space had been leased by Brian Hill from Leucadia, the holding company that operated in Rockport and the Midcoast of Maine under a variety of LLC titles, including Rockport Properties LLC and Glen Cove TND LLC.
But Hill is not returning to Shepherd’s Pie, and the space is changing hands. Smith said the look and feel of the space, however, will not drastically change.
Smith said he and Marianne helped to recruit the new restaurant tenants, and expected to announce them by the end of this week.
“Leucadia is still the landlord for all the people,” he said, which will be the case until the real estate closing takes place later this summer.
Rockport Properties LLC and Glen Cove TND LLC made extensive renovations to the historic Union Hall and the Shepherd in Rockport Village over the past decade. Under Leucadia’s direction, and project manager Mike Sabatini, the village underwent major infrastructure renovations and upgrades.
As for the two vacant lots on their side of the Shepherd Block, Smith said ideas are under discussion. Smith said he and Town Manager Rick Bates have been exploring opportunities for the village, whose broadband infrastructure was upgraded two years ago, and has since attracted the attention of businesses and nonprofits that rely on high-speed internet.
Leucadia Development Corp., a subsidiary of the New York City and Utah-based holding company Leucadia National, arrived in the Midcoast in 2005, bought 76 acres on Islesboro and planned a subdivision there. The company then set sights on Rockport, buying 115 acres on Brewster Point, and proposed a clustered subdivision development there.
Leucadia bought 19 Main St., then Maine Media Workshops and Union Hall, as well as the Camden Street campus, from its former owner David Lyman. Then, it acquired the Masonic Hall, opposite Union Hall, and then the Shepherd Block, and adjacent small wooden homes. The two homes were demolished, and Leucadia began pouring in millions to its Rockport real estate holdings, sprucing up Rockport Village in the process, infusing it with energy.
Then, with the 2009 recession, Leucadia pulled back and began divesting of its total $38 million Rockport holdings. This latest real estate agreement between the company and Smith is one more step in that process.
For Smith, who already owns a number of properties stretching from Rockland to Camden, with several new ones in Rockport, the acquisitions represent opportunities.
“It’s a good investment,” said Smith.
For a major Midcoast landowner?
“For a major real estate taxpayer,” he laughed.
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