In SoPo, growing consulting firm finds great visibility in former Weight Watchers building

By Laurie Schreiber, MaineBiz

A growing consulting firm that’s leasing space in Scarborough found the space it needed to grow and excellent visibility in its purchase of a South Portland building formerly occupied by Weight Watchers of Maine Inc.

S&W Real Estate Co. LLC bought 241 Running Hill Road from Weight Watchers of Maine Inc. for $1.85 million. 

Justin Lamontagne of the Dunham Group and Jennifer Small of Malone Commercial Brokers brokered the transaction.

The 10,530-square-foot Class A office building on 11.5 acres, built for Weight Watchers in 2003, was listed for $2.295 million. The property includes a 74-space parking lot. The corner location is considered premier for the Maine Mall commercial area, which has 15,000 daily traffic counts.

The building features cathedral ceilings and skylights, multiple private offices, a flexible main entrance/waiting area, theater-style meeting space and open areas for bullpen-style workstations. The lower level features ample storage, restrooms, a shower and 2,000 square feet of unfinished windowed office space ready for build-out. 

The search for property took only a few months, said Small, who represented the buyer.

“We highlighted this property from the get-go,” she said.

Aggressive Pricing

Physical space for Weight Watchers was less of a priority during the pandemic, said Lamontagne, who represented the seller.

“All their clients went online/remote and they didn’t need physical in-person meetings anymore,” he said.

The property was on the market for nine months.

“The property gained a lot of activity but it was specialty built for WW so the layout didn’t work for a lot of end-users,” he said. “And, to be honest, we were priced aggressively out of the gates. The strategy was to let the market dictate value and listen to feedback.”

The seller “wasn’t in a lot of ‘pain,’” he said, “so we had time on our side.”

The eye-catching building, with a cathedral-style center elevation, “was constructed like a fortress, as well as any office building I’ve ever sold,” he said. 

The corner location and traffic counts were also appealing. 

“So it certainly checks two major boxes for real estate investment, location and quality,” he noted.

The Buyer

S&W Real Estate Co. LLC is owned by Smith & Wilkinson.

Founded in 1998, Smith & Wilkinson is a talent advisory specializing in executive search, executive coaching, small-group leadership development, succession planning and compensation consulting.

In 2022 so far, it has made 121 placements for 67 clients in 16 states, according to its website.

The firm employs about 25 people and has been leasing space at 71 U.S. Route 1 in Scarborough since around 2005.

“We’ve outgrown the space,” said Carll Wilkinson, the company’s president and CEO.

The idea of ownership versus leasing was appealing.

“We had been looking for a standalone building of a certain size,” he said. “We wanted ample parking and easy access to the highway.”

The new location is more than twice the size of the current space, offering room for growth and paving the way to go from 25 to 40 employees. The company is actively hiring.

A full renovation of the new space is planned. The goal is to make the move by next spring. The cost of the renovation hasn’t yet been determined.

The property was bought with cash. 

“This space fell into our lap fairly quickly,” Wilkinson added.

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