Falmouth retailer wins eviction battle

A judge has blocked an effort by the new owner of the Falmouth Shopping Center to evict Ocean State Job Lot from its store on property which is now part of a massive redevelopment effort. The Route 1 shopping center was sold for $21 million in March and the new owners moved quickly to try to evict Ocean State Job Lot, a discount retailer that moved last fall into a spot in the strip mall that had been vacant for more than a decade. Ocean State officials said they invested about $1.5 million in upgrades to their space and sublet a portion of it to a Planet Fitness gym. The new owners of the mall, a pair of limited-liability companies run by developers Joseph Soley and Jonathan Cohen, argued that Ocean State had failed to provide information on its lease with the former owners in a timely manner and wanted Ocean State out. The retailer said it has a lease that runs through 2028. Business and Consumer Court Judge Robert Mulhern questioned the reasonableness of the new owners’ request for clarification on the existing lease and chastised them for not trying to reconcile problems before issuing an eviction notice. Read the story.

Waterfront redevelopment gets boost from crane

A huge, 330-metric-ton boat lift was unveiled on Portland’s western waterfront Tuesday, signaling the next phase in the industrial redevelopment of prime marine real estate. Portland Shipyard and Portland Yacht Services initiated service of the travel lift during an afternoon ceremony. The lift, which hoists large boats out of the water and moves them to workshops on land, is crucial to a plan to develop a boat- and ship-repair complex on a vacant rail yard. The lift is the latest development for the Canal Landing marine complex at 400 West Commercial St. The event coincided with the start of the Portland Planning Board’s consideration of a 72-foot-tall boat maintenance building proposed as part of the waterfront complex. A total build-out will include three new buildings, reconstructed piers, equipment, boat storage and parking space on an 18-acre parcel, said developer Phineas Sprague. Read the story.

City sells commercial space in mill complex


The city of Saco has sold commercial property it owned on Saco Island to a developer who plans to turn the former mill complex space into residential and commercial units. Developer Bernie Saulnier of Saulnier Development purchased the property known locally as Unit 91 from the city for $400,000. The sale closed Tuesday. Unit 91 is a multi-use space in the otherwise residential Saco Island Terrace condominium building, in a former mill complex on Saco Island. The city acquired Unit 91 in lieu of unpaid property taxes from the Island Terrace Owners Association in 2016. Read the story.


10 Maine companies make Inc. 5000 list

Ten Maine businesses have made the latest Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies, led by SaviLinx of Brunswick at No. 617. The number of Maine companies on the list, which was published Wednesday, is down slightly from 12 in 2017. Other companies making the list were Veritas Prime, F3 MFG, Tilson Technology Management, Cirrus Systems, Vets First Choice, Sound Rink, Dream Local Digital, Mailings Unlimited and MuniciPay. Read the story.

Westbrook accounting firm acquires rival

The Swanson Group, a tax, accounting and consulting firm based in Westbrook, has acquired Howgate & Harmon, a South Portland accounting firm with four full-time employees, the company said Tuesday. The acquisition will bring Swanson Group to 17 employees with projected annual revenue more than $2 million and a clientele of about 2,000 Maine businesses and residents, the company said in a news release. The company said it will pay the seller an annual percentage of each retained client’s overall value, which is standard for acquisitions in the accounting industry, but it declined to disclose the percentage. In 2015, Swanson Group acquired two other accounting firms, the tax portion of Connolly Financial in Yarmouth and Kierstead & Fox of Westbrook. Read the story.


Furniture maker hires former L.L. Bean exec

Thos. Moser, the Auburn-based furniture maker, has hired an L.L. Bean executive as its chief revenue officer. Brad Kauffman was senior vice president of business transformation and strategy at Bean. He was also vice president and general manager of merchandise and retail for five years at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Kauffman started in his new role at Thos. Moser on Aug. 6. He will be responsible for increasing catalogue and digital sales for the furniture maker and will oversee improved merchandizing at the company’s showrooms. Read the story.

State’s July unemployment rate was 3 percent

Maine’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3 percent for July was up slightly from 2.9 percent for June and down from 3.5 percent in July 2017, according to the state Department of Labor. The U.S. preliminary unemployment rate of 3.9 percent for July was down slightly from 4 percent for June and down from 4.3 percent in July 2017, the report said. The New England unemployment average for July was 3.6 percent, with New Hampshire at 2.7 percent, Vermont at 2.8 percent, Massachusetts at 3.6 percent, Rhode Island at 4.1 percent and Connecticut at 4.4 percent. Read the story.


Judge tosses suit against L.L. Bean return policy


Another federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit targeting outdoors retailer L.L. Bean’s new limited-time return policy, this one in California. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers on Tuesday granted the Freeport retailer’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit while leaving an opening for the plaintiff to amend the complaint. A federal judge in Chicago dismissed a similar lawsuit in June. A lawyer for the California plaintiff argued customers paid a premium for L.L. Bean’s products because of its generous satisfaction guarantee, which had no time limit. But the judge expressed skepticism. Read the story.


Suit alleges fraud against CMP

A trio of law firms filed an amended lawsuit Wednesday against Central Maine Power Co., adding an allegation that the company instructed workers to falsely tell customers that excessive bills were the result of high usage or other problems caused by consumers, rather than by the company’s faulty billing and metering systems. Thousands of CMP customers complained this past winter that their electric bills shot up dramatically in December, January and February compared with a year earlier. The amended lawsuit, which combined a previous compliant that CMP overcharged customers, accuses the company of committing fraud based on allegations that CMP’s customer service workers were “trained to always tell the customers that any charges or abnormalities in the bills were the customer’s fault and not CMP’s,” the suit said. A spokeswoman for the company vehemently denied the charges, saying the suit was an insult to CMP’s customer service reps. Read the story.


Board vice chairman of beleaguered health system steps down


The vice chairman of Central Maine Healthcare’s board of directors has resigned. Mark Adams officially resigned Aug. 1, but said he told Chairwoman Deborah Dunlap Avasthi of his plans to leave the board before that. In a text message Thursday, Adams said he “just needed to focus on our growing business at this time.” Adams is president and CEO of Sebago Technics, an engineering and land development firm based in South Portland. Adams’ resignation comes amid turmoil for Central Maine Healthcare, one of the largest hospital systems in the state. Read the story.


Union leader hopes call center jobs remain in Maine

A Communications Workers of America leader said he’s hopeful that no call center jobs will be moved under a new contract with Consolidated Communications. The new contract allows up to 70 of 128 call center jobs to be eliminated in northern New England and relocated to other states where Consolidated operates. But CWA Local 1400 President Don Trementozzi said Wednesday it’s unclear whether Consolidated will exercise that option after the ranks are thinned by early retirements. He said early retirement incentives will reduce the number of jobs that could be moved, and that it’s unclear whether Consolidated will follow through on moving the remaining jobs because of the need for local expertise. Read the story.

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