Penobscot Property Management
Penobscot Property Management – The heirs of the Frederick D. Foote family recently donated eight acres of land to the Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s Witherle Woods Preserve in Castine. This gift will expand the beautiful coastal property that is open to the public and add access for a future trail to the refuge from Battle Avenue, according to a news release from MCHT. This is the latest of many generous gifts of land that have made it what it is today.
MCHT’s Witherle Woods preserve was first established in 1985 by a gift from the Francis W. Hatch family, and in 1995 the Frederick D. Foote family donated the first addition to it—an approximately 36-acre parcel. Members of the Foote family have owned land in Witherle Woods for three generations and are delighted to donate this acreage which includes architectural elements of the former Baldwin estate.
Penobscot Property Management
Witherle Woods has long been an important green space for Castine. Beginning in the 1860s, George H. Witherle, a lifelong Castine resident and businessman, began by purchasing Fort George and Fort Goslin to preserve these old fortifications. In the 1870s he purchased a tract of woods and pastures on the northwest side of the peninsula, and in the following years, worked with citizens to lay out and build carriage roads. Witherle Park, as it was then known, was open to the public for carriage rides, walking and picnicking. The Foote family notes, “Today, MCHT’s commitment to conservation management protects the Preserve for public enjoyment and their stewardship, along with the efforts of the citizens of Castine, have allowed visitors from near and far to enjoy the well-preserved and clearly marked trails in this unique and historic forest overlooking Penobscot Bay.”
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The Foote Gift at Witherle Woods Conservatory provides a scenic approach to the adjacent footpaths, as well as the opportunity to explore the stone remains of the gates and walls of the Baldwin Estate. This gift also allows MCHT to design a new trail from Battle Avenue to the current trail system.
“This is a very generous gift of land to MCHT, a wonderful addition to the Witherle Woods Preserve, and a nice chapter in the Foote family’s long history of working with MCHT to preserve special places in Castine,” said Caleb Jackson. The Regional Steward for MCHT.Or its ownership—an outcast among the cadre of downtown office owners who have been steadily renovating and filling their buildings for the past 10-plus years—is simply doing what is required after being forced by the city , and now he’s trying to elbow his way, little by little, to the grown-up table?
First, the Toronto family that owns the Penobscot has—for the first time in several years—hired a company to lease it to tenants. That’s significant because it’s only 35 percent occupied, according to data from CoStar Group Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based real estate information service.
Perhaps this metric is just a sign that handling this core job in-house as it has been with few results since 2018 just wasn’t cutting it. But obviously, there’s more to this number than that.
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Additionally, perusing the 56-page marketing brochure produced by the new brokerage firm P.A. based in Southfield. Commercially, there’s something I’ve never seen before in a package like this: Two pages dedicated specifically to highlighting metro Detroit’s racial and ethnic diversity, as well as some of the area’s friendliness to the LGBTQ+ community.
This is really encouraging to see, and I hope more brokerages and owners see these for what they are: Not only key issues for many employers who may be considering locating here, but of course for their employees and the region as a whole.
“Being sensitive to what potential tenants are looking for can be beneficial to both sides,” said Terence Edmondson, a longtime Detroit office broker and senior partner at Exclusive Realty LLC.
Confusing those two things is a deliberate play, said Matt Schiffman, the new CEO/chief executive officer of the P.A. Commercial, who owns the listing with a colleague, Mike Gunn.
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Schiffman noted that the property’s owner, the Apostolopoulos family’s Triple Properties, signed the materials and was in favor of including pages that bring these issues to the fore.
A sign of forward thinking, perhaps, from a company that has kept the Penobscot trapped in the dark ages for years.
“We felt the need to really highlight what Detroit is now to people outside the city, to a lot of companies out of state and even internationally,” Schiffman said. “We thought highlighting the diversity of the area was important. Everyone has a local image of Detroit, but we thought it was important to highlight that.”
Detroit’s image outside the region is one thing, but it’s hard to imagine a tougher office climate, a tougher downtown Detroit property with a more troubled recent past.
Gift Of Land Expands Witherle Woods Preserve
You can’t really comment on the 10-plus years of mismanagement at the iconic complex, which consists of the original 13-story building, a 22-story annex and the 47-story skyscraper, the impressive one that for half a century was the city’s tallest building before crowned by the 727-foot-long Marriott Hotel at the Renaissance Center.
We’re talking about a series of maintenance failures that range from non-functioning toilets piling up with human excrement to people trapped in elevators hundreds of feet above the ground. from other debris and debris piling up and people shivering in the cold during a recent winter without working heat.
But Schiffman says steps have been taken to bring the property into the 21st century. He said the property has spent $5.5 million to $6 million on improvements over the past two years.
Nine of the property’s 26 elevators have been “modernized,” Schiffman said, with new safety controls and new wiring and other infrastructure. Sump pumps have been upgraded to prevent flooding, which was a problem in the past. There are new systems to deal with toilet problems. Heating and air conditioning, Schiffman says, are being improved with things like upgrades to steam systems, new valves and pressure controls.
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The city says Triple Properties has paid $48,515 in blight ticket fees to date with an outstanding balance of $4,475 and that Triple has been “compliant” to address the issues. A certificate of compliance can be issued once the outstanding balance is paid.
Regardless, it will take serious effort on the part of Triple Properties and P.A. Commercial to overcome years of mismanagement and horror stories from office tenants.
And while Triple may have hired a professional brokerage team to attract new users to the building, it hasn’t hired an outside management company to run it. This is not lost on some brokers I spoke with.
Or, apparently, on the building’s website, which seems to indicate that Triple Properties knows there’s a lot of work to be done. On the right side of every page, there is the same message: “We are constantly working to raise the bar on our services.” the right price that is.
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Triple Properties Inc. of Toronto, which paid about $5 million in cash for the 47-story skyscraper at 645 Griswold St. in 2012, rejected an offer of $70 million in 2019 and made it clear they wouldn’t take less than $100 million, or about $100 a square foot, I’m told.
“We don’t comment on rumors and speculation in the market,” Steve Apostolopoulos, managing member of Triple Properties, told me this morning. He stressed that the building is not on the market.
Regardless, that’s a big ROI for the 1 million-square-foot landmark building in desperate need of repairs, not to mention the tenants.
JC Reindl at the Detroit Free Press reported on some of this this morning, and I reported on the Penobscot’s plight as recently as August.
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According to Jessica Parker, the chief enforcement officer for the Department of Buildings, Safety Engineering and the Environment, an inspector went to the building today and found no water service on floors 26 through 44, non-functional water pump controls on floors 26 through 44 and a non-functional condensation pumps that flooded the basement.
He said heat and power have been restored to the building and the water on the upper floors is expected to be resolved today.
“BSEED will issue an emergency correction order with a compliance date of Wednesday, 10/2/21,” Parker said in an email. “BSEED and the law have already discussed proceeding with a NAP (nuisance abatement program lawsuit) at this point due to the lack of urgency to make the necessary repairs to correct the ongoing violations. Hearings the owner (defendant) continues to request dismissing the non-conformance tickets, but still the issues are not resolved.”
Lawrence Garcia, the city’s corporation counsel, said in a statement Tuesday that Triple Properties racked up 177 blight violations last year.
Penobscot County Emergency Management Agency
He also said “the Law Department is in the process of preparing a nuisance abatement lawsuit to address the persistent public nuisance issues in the Penobscot.”
CoStar Group Inc., a Washington, DC-based real estate firm;
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