athenahealth announced Friday, June 24 that it closed on the purchase of the Point Lookout resort and conference center complex in Northport for $7.7 million.

According to a June 24 press release from athenahealth, the Watertown-Mass.-based medical billing services company plans to use the facility to train employees and clients on the company’s web-based medical billing software, and bring medical providers together for informational and promotional conferences.

athenahealth opened offices in Belfast in 2008 and currently has more than 300 employees who handle a majority of the company’s operations, according to the press release.

athenahealth spokesman John Hallock said there are no immediate renovations or changes planned and that Point Lookout will continue to operate as a resort while athenahealth figures out what, if any, modifications it needs to make for its own use of the facility.

“I’m sure we’ll work to put our fingerprint on it in terms of branding and other things,” he said. “But that’s not our immediate concern.”

Point Lookout was built by the since-departed credit card company and Midcoast benefactor MBNA starting in 1997, for corporate functions and meetings and events held by select outside groups.

Over the next decade, MBNA expanded the campus, located at the summit of Ducktrap Mountain, building 106 log cabins and adding an Astroturf soccer field, bowling alley and gymnasium.

When Bank of America bought MBNA in 2005, Point Lookout went on the market and was listed at one time on Christie’s Great Estates for $26.4 million.

Erickson Retirement Communities LLC, a subsidiary of Erickson Foundation of Baltimore, Md., bought the facility in 2007 for $12 million, offering similar reasons to those given by athenahealth this week.

Founder John Erickson said at the time that Point Lookout was to serve a variety of purposes including: training for employees, a retreat, and a venue for functions associated with the Erickson School at the University of Maryland, founded by Erickson in 1983 with a focus on aging in society.

Erickson Foundation did not immediately respond to a request from VillageSoup for information on the recent history of the facility, or the reported purchase by athenahealth.

athenahealth’s Belfast offices are located in a complex of buildings also constructed by MBNA. Asked about following in the credit card company’s footsteps, at least from a real estate perspective, Hallock said the existence of the MBNA buildings in Belfast was a major draw for athenahealth to come to Belfast, and the addition of Point Lookout is no different.

“It’s not so much following in any footsteps,” he said. “It’s just that the infrastructure is there. [MBNA] built really beautiful facilities that fall in line with our vision as well.”

Peter DelGreco of Maine & Company, the nonprofit economic development corporation that was instrumental in bringing athenahealth to Belfast, expressed optimism about athenahealth’s recent announcement regarding Point Lookout.

“From an investment perspective and from a quality of property perspective it’s tremendous for the area,” he said. “athenahealth didn’t buy it to let it sit. They’re going to use it and invest in it … overall it’s going to be great for the area.”

In a press release issued June 27, Sen. Olympia Snowe expressed optimism about the announcement from athenahealth.

“I cannot overstate how pleased I am that athenahealth has chosen to expand its operations in Northport,” said Snowe. “Their investment in our community and in the continued operation of the Point Lookout conference center will preserve the many jobs and the renowned amenities at this facility in Northport for years to come.”

Northport Town Administrator Barbara O’Leary said she didn’t think the sale would affect the town, especially with regard to taxes, because the planned use by athenahealth looked to be similar to the previous uses under Erickson.

According to town tax records, the five parcels that comprise Point Lookout are collectively valued at $14.2 million.

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