Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

Cosakita18

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12 Story Office building next to the courthouse-proposed by Boulos.
Never heard of this, were there ever any renderings?

Apartment building near New England Telephone switch building(Parking Lot).
There have been rumors floating around about a 10+ story residential building along that strech of Cumberland Ave. for a while now. A lot of those lots were used as parking for 511 Congress. With the new garage on Brown st. nearing completion, some of those lots will be freed up for for redevelopment. We may see things emerge in the relatively near future.

the Westin project at Jordan's meats, later became Hampton Inn, still waiting on other lot build out.
I haven't heard anything about the extended stay hotel proposed for the corner of Fore and India st. I assume it's dead or being revised in a major way. The original proposal was far too "suburban" , so I hope they come back with something that makes better use of the space.

Westin meeting/event space on Congress Street.
Personally, I'm glad this didn't go forward. That square has since been revitalized into a really wonderful park / community space.

Post any other failed developments that come to mind.
You can add the 45 unit condo building at 220 Washington st.

Another notable failure is the original Thompsons Point proposal, that redevelopment has since gone through a few visionary downgrades, although the project is still coming together nicely, in my opinion.

It does sometimes feel like Portland has had more failures than successes when it comes to major redevelopment projects. In fact, I'm struggling to think of a single master plan that has actually achieved a full build out.
 

PWMFlyer

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From 2007
2nd tallest office building in Portland proposed
The Boulos Co. is proposing to build a major office tower on
land in downtown Portland owned by Cumberland County; in
return, it would build a separate, 12,000-square-foot office
building for the county.

The plan calls for seven floors of office space built on top of five
levels of parking, a building whose height would far exceed the
65-foot limit for that area. The project would need a parcel of
city-owned land and a zoning change approved by the City
Council.

Nearby residents say they are concerned less about the size of
the building than about making sure that it improves the flow of
people between Munjoy Hill and downtown, which is hampered
now by Franklin Arterial.

They plan to make their voices heard at the county's first public
hearing on the proposal, starting at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the
Peter J. Feeney conference room at the county courthouse.
County officials say they are eager for public feedback on the
plan.

"We're just taking this a bite at a time, and we certainly want to
be working with the neighborhood associations and getting their
input," said County Commissioner Richard Feeney, a member of
the committee that has been reviewing building proposals for
several months.

The office tower's height could present a major hurdle for the
project. Even city officials who seemed to favor the concept were
startled to learn that the building would be so much taller than
city zoning standards allow.

"It is wildly out of scale with what's contemplated for that
location," said at-large City Councilor John Anton, a former
Planning Board member.

"In the broad strokes, I want to support what the county is trying
to do and I'd love Boulos to do some work in town. ... The
proposal exceeds what's expressed by the policy document by
two and a half times, and that's just a red flag for me," he said.

The building would be constructed alongside the Cumberland
County courthouse, on a site that's now a parking lot and other
land closer to Franklin Arterial.

The office tower must be that large for the project to have the
economies of scale needed to give the county a 12,000-square-
foot building, said Charlie Miller, a managing partner at the law
firm Bernstein Shur, who helped negotiate the deal for the
county. The county would get a building worth more than $2
million, in exchange for about a half-acre that's worth about
$1.2 million.

The county would have to do the interior work in the building.

Gregory Boulos said CBRE/The Boulos Co., which he runs with
his brother Joseph Boulos, wants to accommodate the county's
needs while proposing a viable project. The project would take
two to three years to complete, and wouldn't be built unless a
major tenant committed to lease space there.

"We believe this is a great site for an office building, given its
proximity to downtown and its access to Franklin Arterial and
the courthouse," Boulos said Friday. "We think the location will
attract a tenant, which would allow us to build it and satisfy us
and the county's need, and be a building that hopefully would
appeal to folks in Portland."

To demonstrate the interest that such a building would have, the
company has a letter from the Pierce Atwood law firm indicating
that the firm wants to lease 70,000 square feet, with the
possibility of expanding to 100,000 square feet. The letter does
not commit to a lease but does express interest and support for
the building's construction.

Bruce Coggeshall, managing partner for Pierce Atwood, said the
firm's space at One Monument Square needs upgrading and the
firm is considering moving. It plans to renew its lease or move
by 2011, he said, to another building in Portland or to the
suburbs.

Demand for commercial real estate in downtown Portland
remains strong, with a vacancy rate of about 7 percent, said
James Harnden, president of Ram Harnden Commercial Real
Estate Services. Demand for office space in Portland is above the
regional and national averages, and it has not suffered so far
from a slowdown in the economy.

The county has been exploring ways to meet its space needs for
the past six years. It has had to carve offices out of closets and
spaces beneath stairwells in the county courthouse, said County
Manager Peter Crichton, but because it faces a budget crunch, it
is exploring expansion options that wouldn't burden taxpayers.

The county now wants to own a building in exchange for the
land. Only one of the three developers that have submitted
proposals, the Boulos Co., would let it do that, Crichton said.

The private office building would have 105,000 square feet of
space and a 269-car parking garage. At 12 stories, it would be
taller than most buildings on the Portland peninsula but smaller
than One City Center, which is 13 stories and 200,000 square
feet, and the 18-story Franklin Towers housing project.

Its height has been described as 150 to 170 feet, well short of
the 204-foot-high spire of the Cathedral of the Immaculate
Conception. One block away, 100 Middle St. is seven stories tall
and has about 100,000 square feet in each of two towers.

City planners have indicated a desire to accommodate major
buildings on the peninsula and developed height restrictions
that allow the tallest buildings on the spine of the peninsula.

The county's site, between Federal and Newbury streets, is about
a block from where the tallest buildings -- 190 feet -- are
allowed. It is in an area where the height limit is 65 feet.

In 2004, Joseph Boulos proposed building a convention center
and arena on land bounded by Congress Street, Cumberland
Avenue and Franklin Arterial, where larger buildings are
permitted. But the plan relied on state approval of a local option
sales tax, and the Legislature did not approve one.

Preliminary designs of the Federal Street project will be
presented Monday night, Boulos said.

"Depending on what the commissioners say and the
neighborhood associations, there's room for movement in terms
of the design of the building and what gets built," Boulos said.
"This would be a tall building but would not be the biggest
building in town."

The county has asked for a design that complements the granite
facade of the county courthouse and is not a rectangular
monolith. The developer has proposed a building that meets
energy efficiency and sustainability guidelines outlined by the
U.S. Green Building Council.

The project would produce about $250,000 in annual property
tax payments to the city.

Katie Brown, a member of the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood
Association's board, said the building could represent an
opportunity to make Franklin Arterial more pedestrian-friendly,
something that residents and businesses in Portland's East End,
Munjoy Hill and Bayside neighborhoods have advocated.

"We're far less concerned about the height of it than the face of
it on the Franklin Street side," she said.



Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:
dhench@pressherald.com
 

Portlander

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I'm with you Max, that part of Congress Street could use a boost. Those are my two favorite Portland buildings and I'm very pleased that the two separate ownership groups plan to improve and bring them back to life. I hope the owners of the Time & Temperature Building will realign the window bays on the top two floors and apply an improved limestone type treatment to match the rest of the facade.

They could even remove the existing upper exterior walls and add matching pre fab panels similar to the process underway at the Holiday Inn. My former girlfriend used to work on the 14th floor and said that the exterior walls were not very sturdy and actually would move during moderate winds! If I owned the structure, I would build out a full 15th floor and add new mechanical space and high tech digital signage above it.
 

portlandneedsnewarena

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Never heard of this, were there ever any renderings?



There have been rumors floating around about a 10+ story residential building along that strech of Cumberland Ave. for a while now. A lot of those lots were used as parking for 511 Congress. With the new garage on Brown st. nearing completion, some of those lots will be freed up for for redevelopment. We may see things emerge in the relatively near future.


I haven't heard anything about the extended stay hotel proposed for the corner of Fore and India st. I assume it's dead or being revised in a major way. The original proposal was far too "suburban" , so I hope they come back with something that makes better use of the space.



Personally, I'm glad this didn't go forward. That square has since been revitalized into a really wonderful park / community space.



You can add the 45 unit condo building at 220 Washington st.

Another notable failure is the original Thompsons Point proposal, that redevelopment has since gone through a few visionary downgrades, although the project is still coming together nicely, in my opinion.

It does sometimes feel like Portland has had more failures than successes when it comes to major redevelopment projects. In fact, I'm struggling to think of a single master plan that has actually achieved a full build out.
I have a rendering of the 12 story Boulos proposal next to the Courthouse. I can scan and email it to you if you leave your email address. It was a nice looking building.
 

TC_zoid

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My personal fave of the buildings that never were in Portland were the 35 story twin tower hotels that John Cacadoulis proposed. Remember that one? The one with the gondola connected to Peaks Island? Though a bit over-the-top for Portland, more appropriate for Disney World or Vegas, it would have been fun. If it had been built and replaced the oil tank farm, so that boats came upon this instead of the tanks and tankers, a far more exciting sight. Moving back to reality (or maybe not), I would like to see a type of Highline pedestrian walkway, turning the corner, from Bug Light to Saltwater Grille. Anything but tanks, tankers, and oil spills. And the two green tanks, when seen from Google Satellite view, have no tops and are empty, rusting. So basically, a tank junkyard.
 
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Cosakita18

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Noticed today that there are new utility poles running along the shore at the ForePoints marina construction site. I REALLY hope those aren't a permanent feature. Are there any renderings showing the marina when it's complete? The only publicly available renderings don't show a lot of detail in regards to the landscaping between the bike/ped trail and the shore.
 

Portlander

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Wow, larger than I expected. Who is developing this, is it market rate units and is the 4 story portion fronting on Middle Street? That lot has been parking for the Portland Police Department for many years.
 

Cosakita18

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Wow, larger than I expected. Who is developing this, is it market rate units and is the 4 story portion fronting on Middle Street? That lot has been parking for the Portland Police Department for many years.
It's being developed by Community Housing of Maine. It's intended to be 55+ affordable housing.

Yes the 4 story segment and retail space abuts the corner of Middle and Franklin directly in front of the Bangor Savings Bank building. Whether that property will be affected or not, I'm unsure.
 

Portlander

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Thanks for the information, kind of an interesting location for the over 55 crowd. Developer could not chose a safer area on the peninsula with PD across the street! So would this project be a much smaller and modern version of Franklin Towers 50 years later?
 

PortlandLifeGuy

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There is a 4 story structure going up on Munjoy Hill, looks very similar to the condos built a block down from the Observatory. It looks really large, at least the largest development on Munjoy since at least the Congress street condos. Anyone have any renderings or anything?

Also, any updates on the timeline of the Portland Co. project? Looks like they're making some serious progress, as well as 100 Fore street. Or the 20 story downtown tower?
 

Max

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Interesting design for a proposed new flophouse on Cumberland Ave. The architect says they were encouraged to think "Art Deco," which I can see in the ornamental design in the center of the building. The application says the ground floor will be reserved for retail.





 

Cosakita18

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Interesting design for a proposed new flophouse on Cumberland Ave. The architect says they were encouraged to think "Art Deco," which I can see in the ornamental design in the center of the building. The application says the ground floor will be reserved for retail.





Interesting design choice. Personally I find the ornamental elements to be a bit too much. Also, from the renderings, it looks like they'll be using some sort of metal cladding for the majority of the exterior, which tends to look cheap once completed. But this project has a good scale for the neighborhood that it's in. Glad to see something happening around the desolate void between city hall and Franklin
 

Portlander

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Difficult trying to figure out the actual floor count in the two buildings. Looks like 10 on Spring Street and maybe 11 on the Fore Street structure. Would prefer to have the Spring Street elevation at least 12 floors to equal One Portland Square's roofline. The numerous garage levels in the proposed buildings hinder the overall height. Overall I think it's a nice addition to those vacant lots and hope it all eventually materializes.
 

TC_zoid

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Interesting design for a proposed new flophouse on Cumberland Ave. The architect says they were encouraged to think "Art Deco," which I can see in the ornamental design in the center of the building. The application says the ground floor will be reserved for retail.





Got to get over this 4-6 story public housing idea. I was at the unveiling of the Passive House bldg., the one off Franklin St. Arterial, 2 years ago. The Director of the PHA said, in his speech, that they had a waiting list of over 8,000 people. Why 4-6 story buildings? What is the big problem with a 15 story bldg. in Portland to solve housing woes?
 

Max

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Got to get over this 4-6 story public housing idea. I was at the unveiling of the Passive House bldg., the one off Franklin St. Arterial, 2 years ago. The Director of the PHA said, in his speech, that they had a waiting list of over 8,000 people. Why 4-6 story buildings? What is the big problem with a 15 story bldg. in Portland to solve housing woes?
I hear you, but to be clear this particular proposal is not a public housing proposal. My understanding is it's a private developer proposing 'affordable' housing with multiple units sharing a bathroom. It sounds like a dormitory to me.

Let's not forget that the planning board approved Federated's proposal to build four 15-story buildings that would have added over 800 market rate apartments to the city, but the project was basically squashed by a couple activist residents opposed to the heights.
 

cneal

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6 story buildings are the most cost-effective and financially realistic to build for affordable housing developers. Any higher and you'd need much more expensive steel-framed construction.

There might be economies of scale with a 15-story tower, but because Maine is a small state, the tax credits that finance these projects aren't big enough to bankroll such a large building.

Market-rate developers are the best bet for adding more housing in taller buildings. But for them, zoning and NIMBYism are the limiting factors. Only a few vacant parcels are zoned for taller buildings and as a result the land prices for those are generally too high to finance housing, so we get high-rise offices, which pay higher rents, instead.

Anyway, there's still plenty of land available for 6-story buildings. The PHA estimates that they could eventually build 650 net new apartments in East Bayside alone with existing zoning:
http://utiledesign.com/work/portland-housing-authority-strategic-vision-plan/

(with 58 Boyd now under construction, they're on track to add 100 new apartments to the neighborhood in a 3-year period)
 

TC_zoid

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15 story buildings are nothing new in Portland. I believe there are four? Zoning can always be amended, if its for a good cause, making housing affordable. I disagree that 3 separate buildings of 50 units each (4-6 stories) is cheaper to build than one 15 story building at 150 units. 3 separate buildings is 3 separate lots (a cost), 3 different construction periods (a cost) instead of one, 3 separate HVAC systems, etc. The point here is that 8,000 plus people need housing. The current solution is not working. The PHA has built two buildings since 1964, Franklin Towers and the 4 story Passive House. I would call that incompetence along with a general lack of concern. We all know why, if we really think it through. Despite Portland's ostensible goal to house immigrants, most Mainers don't want them, thinking they are all poor and bring crime. Most rise above. Immigration is the backbone of the economy for cities all across the U.S. Housing them at a snail's pace is not doing anything, really.
 

cneal

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I mean, I wish it weren't the case, but affordable housing developers literally can't finance a 15-story building with current subsidies. There's a reason Franklin Towers was the last thing built for 40 years, and that reason was a huge decline in federal funding for public housing that started under the Nixon administration and continued under Reagan.

As I mentioned, the tax credits that finance affordable housing are limited (in Maine) to about $25-30 million a year, which typically get spread around to 5 or 6 projects a year.

58 Boyd, for instance, is an $11 million project and is relying on tax credits to cover $6.8 million of the costs (see page 27 for the breakdown):
https://www.portlandmaine.gov/DocumentCenter/View/18329/Order-102-1718

A taller, $20 million affordable housing project would not pencil out in the State of Maine, at least with our current financing resources.
 

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