Case Studies

Bay House

Downeast, Market-Rate Condominiums by Metric Corporation

In October 2012, the Metric Corporation (Metric) broke ground on a long-awaited multi-family housing structure in Portland, Maine. Atlas Investments is developing the property in cooperation with Reger Holdings LLC. The condominiums, known as Bay House, will open in December 2013 for occupancy. In 2008, developers had to put the project on hold as the condominium market bottomed out. With some help from the city and improvements in financing options, the project is underway.

The growing, coastal city has been in a housing crunch for several years. As the state works to bring in young, creative professionals and entrepreneurs, the housing market is still catching up. To support new development, the city is working cooperatively with developers to develop zoning that works to meet these housing goals. Additionally, Portland officials have offered tax increment financing as a subsidy for the development. The new development will improve the net worth of the land while building new sources of revenue for local businesses, making Bay House a solid investment for the city.

Old Port Living at its Finest

Bay House sits in Portland’s Old Port neighborhood. Now a bustling area filled with shops and restaurants, the Old Port retains some of its working waterfront history with a ferry terminal, wooden wharfs and lobster boats. The structure, designed by David M. White AIA, offers mixed use space. The bottom floor is open to commercial leasing alongside a parking garage, with two towers of condominiums up top. “This is a high-end, luxury complex,” says Bob Grzyb, senior project manager for Metric. “The end product will offer 86 units of one-, two- and three-bedroom condominiums.”

While the developers are not shooting for LEED certification, Grzyb says that many of the same sustainable design concepts have been incorporated. “We are incorporating LEED-type components, such as high efficiency equipment,” he elaborates. “We have been through that. The decision to go LEED is really the decision of whether or not you want to spend the money for the certification. Everyone is really mindful of energy efficiency and the engineers on this project have designed the structure to have less environmental impact while saving end users on energy costs.”

Managing Challenges

After obtaining the financial security to complete the project, the developers and contractors on the project encountered more trouble. “Early on, we developed an extensive plan to manage the sensitive soils on the site,” Grzyb explains. “That is pretty typical of projects in Maine. We are working on top of a layer of clay, so we had to be careful when installing the foundations. We had to improve the clay in order for it to accept the building load. We installed about 200 grouted piles underneath the structure. For this, we worked closely with our civil and geotechnical engineers to build our soil management plan. There were a lot of meetings.

Furthermore, the crew is working within tight site conditions. “On three sides, there are streets with sidewalks right up against the perimeter,” Grzyb elaborates. “Then the other side is an alleyway. There is zero clearance on all four sides. It was very difficult to store and manage our equipment. We have a small storage area across the street where our trailer is set up on a vacant lot. We bring material in on an as-needed basis. For example, we started working with lumber in March or April. We had been storing it at the warehouse since February, when we purchased it.  Fortunately, our supplier was well aware of our site conditions and offered to deliver it to us as needed because they were usually in Portland two or three time every week. Once the parking garage is complete with slabs and cleanup, we will be able to utilize that space for storage. We have a few more weeks until the slabs are in 100 percent. Then, everything will start cleaning up nicely.”

Team Players

Metric is serving as the construction management team on the Bay House project. “We hire out all of the labor,” says Grzyb. “We aren’t self-performing anything on this one.” With all of the challenges involved, having the right team has been integral to the project’s success. “Generally we look at a few things when choosing subcontractors,” he elaborates. “We look at their work history or evaluate previous experiences we have had with them. We want to make sure that the quality is there and that they can meet deadlines. Those are big factors and a lot of it comes through word of mouth.

“Maine is a newer market for us,” he continues. “We are dealing with some new subs. We work closely with the owner’s representative, who has been a great resource for finding quality subs. We are fortunate to have a really good team on this project. The owner got a reasonable price because people are bidding competitively right now. Some of our subs are people we worked with on the Pierce Atwood project a while back here in Maine. We haven’t done much work in Portland recently, but we are looking to stay in this market and be around in the future.”

Metric has performed well on several major condominium projects in New England, specifically in the Boston area. “We gauge our success on how satisfied the owner is at the end of the job,” Grzyb says, We want to be on time and on budget. If we are still friends after the project is done, that is a good indicator that they will want to work with us again.” And if the Metric Corporation’s previous projects are any indicator, the crew can look forward to building a larger presence in Northern New England.

Published on: December 18, 2013

Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in US Builders Review” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.


Spring 2018



  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.