Erickson expands Point Lookout focus, opens to public

By Lynda Clancy | May 22, 2008
F300 Point Lookout

Northport — The Erickson Foundation is opening Point Lookout to the public, inviting corporate groups and guests to make use of the former MBNA conference center, 106 cabins and athletic facilities.

The foundation, which bought the property from Bank of America after that company acquired it from MBNA Corp., said it still intends to also use the 387-acre Point Lookout for its business, and as a satellite campus for the Erickson School.

"Point Lookout provides a venue where people who are recently or soon-to-be retired can prepare for the next phase of their life and explore their options, with everything from wellness assessments to post-retirement career planning available on-site," said Mel Tansill, senior director of corporate public affairs, at the Erickson Retirement Communities in Catonsville, Md. "In addition, Point Lookout is a place where companies and nonprofits, particularly those that serve older adults, can explore strategies for improving the lives of seniors."

Erickson develops and manages retirement communities in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia, employing more than 11,000 workers and housing 20,000 residents. The company is developing new facilities in Denver, Kansas City, and Ashburn, Va., and is acquiring other properties in the country, it said.

Point Lookout is the newest venture of chairman and CEO John Erickson, said Tansill, joining Erickson Retirement Communities — the company’s core business of developing and managing retirement communities — as well as offshoots such as the Retirement Living TV network, NorthBay environmental education center and the Erickson Advantage health plan.

"Point Lookout is an important part of John Erickson’s desire to change the face of senior living in America and improve quality of life in the freedom years," said Tansill. "It will be a national destination and resource center for the advancement of positive aging in this country."

Last fall, the Finance Authority of Maine approved tax-exempt bond financing to help Northport LLC/The Erickson Foundation Inc. purchase various Knox and Waldo county properties, including Point Lookout, the Ducktrap Mountain conference center built by MBNA a decade ago. Erickson is expected to create 52 full-time jobs, said FAME officials, in December 2007.

Maine acted as the conduit for the issuance of nonrecourse bonds to finance the property purchases. The financing package, arranged with private investors, totaled $30 million to help the Erickson Foundation acquire and renovate Point Lookout and other properties, said FAME.

FAME anticipates Erickson's presence will create an annual payroll of $1.8 million.

On Thursday, Tansill said Point Lookout now employs 15 and anticipates employing 50 by the end of this year.

Mark Blair is the general manager, said Tansell, and "two Erickson 'insiders' are on-site helping with the start-up: Andrea Wilhelm is serving as the administrative director of both Point Lookout and NorthBay [an environmental education center located in Maryland], and Paul Coco, who has been with Erickson for 10 years at the corporate office, Charlestown, and Brooksby Village, is now Point Lookout’s director of operations. Neal Williamson oversees marketing and public relations."

Point Lookout, overlooking Penobscot Bay, had been on the market since 2005. MBNA had developed Ducktrap Mountain for corporate functions, and started construction there in 1997. The facility eventually grew to include eight main buildings scattered on the hill, as well as 106 log cabins, an Astroturf soccer field, bowling alley and gymnasium. The company also built a temporary school for Lincolnville while the town constructed its own new school in Lincolnville Center.

The property was listed on Christie's Great Estates for $26.4 million last summer.

Founded in 1983, Erickson is privately held, with John Erickson at the helm. He also established the Erickson School: Aging, Management, and Policy at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, with a mission to prepare leaders to improve society by enhancing the lives of older adults, and to inspire change and help reinvent the way society both views and responds to aging.

According to the company, its overall growth in 2006 was 14.6 percent.

Last fall, Erickson had credited his arrival in Maine to a few previous visits to Camden, whose harbor he has sailed into, and a Baltimore friend, Walter Skayhan, who also purchased former MBNA properties. In Skayhan's case, he acquired the Knox Mill and other smaller properties in Camden Village, redeveloping them for condominiums and retail and office space.

Tansill said there was a soft opening at Point Lookout last month, with an official grand opening scheduled for July, when the public will be able to rent cottages, or purchase memberships in the fitness club and bowling alley.
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