Retiring baby boomers and the demand for condos on southern Maine's coast are behind Stephen Kasprzak's change of heart.
One of southern Maine's largest home builders, Stephen Kasprzak put us his first condominium project in 1980. Interest rates hit 17 percent that year and Kasprzak had to slash prices just to get rid of the Portland units. "I said that we'd never build condominiums again," he recalled recently. Never say never. A mile from town here, Kasprzak is finishing Plymouth Grove, the final phase of a 274-unit condominium neighborhood called Coventry Woods. The project was supposed to take up to 12 years to complete. It will be built out in half that time. The demand for condominiums on Maine's southern coast helps explain Kasprzak's change of heart. Now Stephen Kasprzak, the contractor who once shunned condos, has stopped building single family homes. He says he's the only contractor in Maine dedicated solely to condominiums. He recently changed the name of his 32 year old company from Kasprzak Builders to Kasprzak Condominiums, Inc. Kasprzak's decision shows how a long established company can refine its business plan to take advantage of the market. It also provides a glimpse into the changing demographics of southern Maine. Kasprzak has built more than 2,000 homes in 80 subdivisions in his career. His evolution as a builder tracks trends in suburban development in Maine over the past three decades.
In 1997, Kasprzak wound up with a parcel of land in Kennebunk that wasn't suitable for single family housing. That lead Kasprzak and a former employee to research demographic trends. They were especially interested in the baby boomers who had raised families and were looking for smaller homes, but with the amenities of the larger houses they were leaving. Anticipating the demand, the company used the Kennebunk land to develop Waterford Green, a townhouse neighborhood off Route 1. Prices started at $115,000.
This year Kasprzak will complete roughly 80 condominium units. The driving force behind the demand for condos in southern Maine has been out of state retirees, Georgitis said, typically in their 60's. And in the past year, roughly half the buyers have been from Maine, selling larger homes to retire in coastal York County. Now the average age appears to be dropping for both local and out of state buyers. Several new residents are in their 50's. Many are still working. Some continue to have jobs out of state and visit their Maine homes on the weekends.
Kasprzak thinks he can finish out his career focused on condominiums. Despite his experience in 1980, he said he's not worried about hanging his entire business on one form of development. The number of baby boomers set to retire over the next 10 years, and the growing popularity of southern Maine with out of state residents, give him confidence in condominiums. "the demographics say it's a good bet," he said.