A standing-room-only crowd turned out to consider trends and developments in Portland’s office space, and their impact on existing space, traffic and parking. A panel of experts — Drew Anderson, attorney, partner at Murray Plumb & Murray; Sam LeGeyt, broker, NAI Dunham; Nate Stevens, broker, CBRE | The Boulos Co.; and Jennifer Small, broker, Malone Commercial Brokers — examined these issues at a business breakfast forum on Oct. 17 at the Portland Public Library.

Moderated by J. Craig Anderson, Portland Press Herald business reporter, the real estate professionals offered their best guesses on what might happen as developments progress, such as Wex’s new HQ on the waterfront, a mixed-use development including offices at Widgery and Union wharfs, and Rock Row in Westbrook.

Among the takeaways:

Parking will continue to be a big issue for downtown employers. Some spaces are now running in the range of $180 per month, and Small said there are one-to-three year waiting lists at some garages. LeGeyt said for a typical downtown business using 3,000 square feet of office space, it would likely pay $27,000 annually in parking costs.

The Portland Press Herald’s business reporter J. Craig Anderson moderated the Business Breakfast Forum on Wednesday. Here, he talks to attorney Drew Anderson, a partner at Murray Plumb & Murray.

Lending will continue to be a critical issue in new construction. Drew Anderson said nearly all new construction loans are tied to a developer having commitments for tenants before the financing can be secured.

Some of Portland’s hottest neighborhoods will continue to see growth. Stevens said he expects there will be about 2,500 new employees in the next three years in the India Street neighborhood. He also expects 2018 will end with a 1 percent vacancy rate in Class A office space in the downtown.

A large crowd attends a Business Breakfast Forum at the Portland Public Library on Wednesday. The free panel discussion covered topics relating to the urbanizing impact of new office construction.

All of the panelists said the new owner of the Time & Temperature office building has a terrific opportunity to redevelop the building for mixed use. Several of the bidders were interested in converting some of the space in the iconic building into residential uses.

Innovation needs to come into play to address the downtown’s traffic and parking needs. Drew Anderson said employers could consider paying employees to opt out of downtown parking spaces in favor of using shuttles or buses. Or developers could build mechanized garages, which have the capacity to fit 43 cars in space that would normally accommodate 17 in a typical surface lot. Wex got a shout-out for planning to use a shuttle to transport employees from its South Portland facility to its new downtown headquarters, once the project is complete.

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