AUGUSTA — A $10 million, four-story building under construction at the Central Maine Commerce Center is one of the largest buildings to be built in Maine this year, its developers say.

It will be the new leased home of Maine Revenue Services and the state Office of Information Technology. When completed in about a year, the new building is expected to bring an additional 700 state workers to the growing north Augusta area. Some 1,100 people already work at the Central Maine Commerce Center site.

Currently, the two state agencies are in leased space in two buildings on Edison Drive.

The commerce center site was previously home to the SCI computer plant before it closed its 317,000-square-foot building off Civic Center Drive in 2003.

Kevin Mattson of commerce center owner Mattson Development said when his firm bought the SCI plant the entire property was valued at about $10 million.

The building is being built and will be owned by an affiliate of Opechee Construction and the total taxable value of the commerce center is expected to reach $50 million, according to Mattson.

“It’s going to be great for the city of Augusta, another huge addition to the tax base,” Mattson said. “When the old SCI building was first purchased, people were worried its $10 million valuation would go away. Well, now we’re at five times that level.”

The consolidation of the two state agencies will also bring more traffic to an already heavily traveled area.

Michael Duguay, development director for the city, said he’s glad to see the commerce site thrive. But when workers are being consolidated to a new location there is some concern, too, for the part of the city they are leaving, Duguay said.

“When SCI was leaving there were some dire consequences that could have come, so we’re happy and excited to see what (Mattson) has been able to do there — that’s an incredible engine of growth,” Duguay said. “But in the back of your mind, you have to think, at some level, if we start to lose the employment centers in the core of the city, it does come with some cost.”

William Leet, director of leased space for the state, said the state negotiated with its current landlord for the two agencies to remain at their current homes at 14 and 26 Edison Drive, but was not successful.

So the project went out to bid and a deal was struck to consolidate the two agencies in the 110,000-square-foot brick building to be built in front of the existing commerce center.

The state will pay $17.36 per square foot and Leet anticipates the agencies will be the building’s sole tenants. The yearly lease payments will total $1.9 million.

Leet said the per-foot cost includes most building-related expenses, other than internal lighting and electricity costs. The lease terms include many items not included in the state’s current lease of $15 per square foot, such as fuel and janitorial costs. When those expenses are included, the state pays about $23 per square foot for its current space.

Leet said the agencies will be using less space than they are now, will reuse as much furniture and other items as possible. He said the new office space will be primarily open space.

Mark Woglom, president of New Hampshire-based Opechee, said 70 to 80 people will be working on the project.

 

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at: [email protected]