Some news travels fast – and in this instance, the news has traveled very fast! That is that two wealthy Portland developers purchased the Falmouth Route 1 shopping center earlier this year and have major expansion plans for the 60-acre area.
One of the developers is Joe Soley, a well-known landlord and Jonathan Cohen, a less-well known developer in Portland. Both are known to be publicity shy and adverse to having their photographs taken by this blogger: “Don’t do this to me! Don’t do this to me! I’ll call the police on you,” yelled Soley following taking the photo to the right.
Soley, a former business associate of VP Spiro Agnew in Baltimore, MD., many years ago, has had more than anyone’s share of battles with Portland city officials over his properties. They are frequently in violation of city codes. Sometimes rather than spend the money to fix them, Soley lets them deteriorate beyond use. Cohen’s record is less controversial, although he does pay the bills for the new, controversial bar, “Vegas,” to be run by Mark Dean, business owner of Mark’s Place and other establishments in southern Maine.
Earlier this year a “stop work” order was attached to the door at Ten Exchange Street in the Old Port because work in the bar was observed by the city when Cohen had not received a permit to proceed with the work. Cohen is the developer of the new headquarters for WEX on the Portland waterfront and owner of the condos at Ten Exchange Street – some of which remain for sale. Although, the WEX building is far from completion, it has allegedly already outgrown its planned space and Cohen is reportedly looking for more space in the area.
To the dismay of many patrons, it also came to light recently that Soley/Cohen are trying to evict a popular store in the Falmouth Shopping Center, Ocean State Job Lot, (“OCJL”) a Rhode Island based store with 131 stores in the northeast. A trial has been set for June 27th in a Portland court because OSJL wants to fight the eviction for its “employees, customers and the community” according to an official for the forty-year old company.
“Now that I know who is behind this deal, I’m more concerned than I was previously. Joe’s reputation is terrible as a businessman. I know people who have rented from him,” said Erin Smith this morning at the to be renamed Falmouth Center. “I hear that Joe is a slum landlord,” said another women who wished to remain anonymous. “I don’t really trust any business dealings that Joe Soley is involved in,” said Deb Snow who was shopping in the Center this morning. “His track record is poor and his buildings are always in disrepair. The proof is in the pudding. He’s out to make money for himself.” said Chris Ramos, who worked for a company formerly a tenant of Soley’s.
It’s no hidden secret who Joe is. His reputation proceeds this new plan of his. This is a good town and we want to keep it that way. We have no room for Joe,” said Randy Broadway.
Please visit previous posts herein on the subject dated May 18 and May 24, 2018 for more background information.
(note: This blogger took a nice photo of Erin Smith, but is having difficulty downloading it. Will keep trying, Erin!)