WESTBROOK — Maine Medical Center employees began moving into One Riverfront Plaza this week, several months after the company purchased the long-vacant building.

The first wave of employees moved in Wednesday, according to the company. Up to 500 employees should be working in the building by mid-April.

The medical center purchased the downtown building, which overlooks the Presumpscot River, in June for $10.75 million. The office building, vacant since November 2015, will house Maine Med’s integrated Information Services employees along with other administrative functions currently spread across eight office locations throughout Greater Portland. MMC Communications Manager Caroline Cornish said the employees are moving into the building in phases so services aren’t disrupted.

City officials said they’re excited to have the MMC employees come to Westbrook and frequent the businesses along Main Street, accessible from the pedestrian bridge over the river.

“It’s going to put a significant population in the downtown on a daily basis,” said City Administrator Jerre Bryant. “It’ll be very good for the downtown economy.”

The city had been waiting for a large company to move into the building since insurer Disability RMS moved to South Portland in November 2015, taking 350 to 400 workers away from Westbrook. The promise of more employees coming to the building has done exactly what Bryant and others had hoped for by spurring economic interest in the downtown.

“We’ve received a lot of interest from folks, in part because of the Maine Med announcement,” Bryant said.

In the past year, a number of new businesses have located downtown or have announced plans to do so, including The Daily Grind, Quill Books and Beverage, Top Kabob and Legends Rest Taproom.

Bryant said the city has provided Maine Med with a list of downtown restaurants where they can get lunch, hold meetings or use for catering. Westbrook residents now also have more reason to visit downtown, he said.

“It increases the attraction for businesses to locate in the downtown, which also increases services for residents,” he said. “It’ll make the downtown more vibrant, which is a positive.”

The only potential drawback is increased traffic, but Bryant said he’s not concerned.

“We handled the population of Disability RMS for 10 years with no significant issues so I don’t anticipate any problems,” he said.

Offsetting the traffic increase at peak hours is the shift schedule of the Maine Med employees. Bryant said the shifts are spread out instead of all being 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and all 500 employees won’t be driving at peak times.

The 134,000-square-foot building, which was built in 2004, was purchased by Maine Med from One Riverfront Plaza Holdings, LLC. The sale of the building to MMC also resulted in the medical center leasing the city-owned parking garage attached to the building.

The city has valued the building, on 0.85 acres, at $20.55 million, according to city tax records. Those records also show Pendleton Westbrook bought One Riverfront Plaza for $23.5 million in 2005.

The building went to auction in February 2017 after the U.S. National Bank Association filed a foreclosure notice. It was bought back by the bank for $9.2 million. The bank then accepted private bids for the purchase of the building.

Kate Gardner can be contacted at 781-3661 ext. 125 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: katevgardner

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