Canal Plaza Tower | Portland

PortlandLifeGuy

New member
Joined
Jun 17, 2019
Messages
48
Reaction score
24
This project is almost for sure dead. Anyone else think otherwise? At least for the next couple years.
 

Cosakita18

Active Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2016
Messages
494
Reaction score
350
This project is almost for sure dead. Anyone else think otherwise? At least for the next couple years.
Almost certainly. Hotels or high-end residential don't make any sense to build given the economic outlook for the next couple of years.
 

Max

Active Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2006
Messages
387
Reaction score
257
Awhile back I stumbled across some documents online which shed some light on this project. Since it's almost certainly dead at this point I guess it won't jeopardize anything to describe it here. If you want to find them google "Kowtower" hotel.

It was being developed as a luxury hotel, with a restaurant and meeting space on the top 2 or 3 floors. It looks they intended the lobby to actually be on one of the top floors as well, and you'd take an express elevator from the ground level up to the lobby. They proposed adding another level to the Fore Street parking garage with a dedicated connection to the hotel.

The docs I found seem to show a proposal that was pretty far along in the design and planning process. In terms of height and design it looks pretty similar to what was described in the December media articles on the potential variance request: a slim tower about 280' tall, 23 stories, nestled into that small available footprint in Canal Plaza.

I have to believe there's no way this could proceed as a hotel anytime soon, given that we have a plethora of hotel rooms already and hundreds more coming online, plus the uncertain near-term future of tourism and the economy generally.

I'd like to say it could be redesigned as office space, but my sense is that when we come out of this pandemic companies are going to entirely reevaluate their need for office space, and probably ultimately decide they need less of it.

I think housing will be the potential driver of development in Portland in the near future. It seems possible to me that dense cities like NYC and Boston may become less desirable places to live, and combined with an increasing ability to work from anywhere, smaller cities like Portland will becoming even more appealing places to live.

I also wonder if one potential upside to this pandemic will be a resetting of the costs of construction? Will the prices of materials come down? Will increased unemployment in other sectors be an opportunity to recruit workers to the construction industry? I have no idea, and I don't know if these are even the right questions, I just know that what I've read from construction industry folks in Maine in recent years is that material and labor costs are high and it's impossible to find enough workers!
 

PortlandLifeGuy

New member
Joined
Jun 17, 2019
Messages
48
Reaction score
24
Awhile back I stumbled across some documents online which shed some light on this project. Since it's almost certainly dead at this point I guess it won't jeopardize anything to describe it here. If you want to find them google "Kowtower" hotel.

It was being developed as a luxury hotel, with a restaurant and meeting space on the top 2 or 3 floors. It looks they intended the lobby to actually be on one of the top floors as well, and you'd take an express elevator from the ground level up to the lobby. They proposed adding another level to the Fore Street parking garage with a dedicated connection to the hotel.

The docs I found seem to show a proposal that was pretty far along in the design and planning process. In terms of height and design it looks pretty similar to what was described in the December media articles on the potential variance request: a slim tower about 280' tall, 23 stories, nestled into that small available footprint in Canal Plaza.

I have to believe there's no way this could proceed as a hotel anytime soon, given that we have a plethora of hotel rooms already and hundreds more coming online, plus the uncertain near-term future of tourism and the economy generally.

I'd like to say it could be redesigned as office space, but my sense is that when we come out of this pandemic companies are going to entirely reevaluate their need for office space, and probably ultimately decide they need less of it.

I think housing will be the potential driver of development in Portland in the near future. It seems possible to me that dense cities like NYC and Boston may become less desirable places to live, and combined with an increasing ability to work from anywhere, smaller cities like Portland will becoming even more appealing places to live.

I also wonder if one potential upside to this pandemic will be a resetting of the costs of construction? Will the prices of materials come down? Will increased unemployment in other sectors be an opportunity to recruit workers to the construction industry? I have no idea, and I don't know if these are even the right questions, I just know that what I've read from construction industry folks in Maine in recent years is that material and labor costs are high and it's impossible to find enough workers!

This is really interesting! I could see it being delayed for some time. Perhaps Portland will become even more desirable for investment? We aren't densely populated at all, yet hours from other very dense areas. Investment wise, it could make sense.

The tower certainly will not be happening anytime soon.
 

Cosakita18

Active Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2016
Messages
494
Reaction score
350
I'd like to say it could be redesigned as office space, but my sense is that when we come out of this pandemic companies are going to entirely reevaluate their need for office space, and probably ultimately decide they need less of it.
Plus the buildings footprint is way too small to be useful as Class A office space. This would have definitely been a "pencil tower"

Were there any renderings? I couldn't find any Googling that term... Although it does confirm that the project was being developed by the very illustrious Safdie Architects
 

Max

Active Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2006
Messages
387
Reaction score
257
Any insight into the proposed building use? It's hard to imagine they'd still go for a hotel, given the massive number of hotel rooms coming online and apparently more in the works (Time & Temperature Hotel, for example). I would guess that residential is the only thing that would make the project feasible.

That said the docs I found online last year showed a pretty advanced design from Safdie for a hotel.


Screen Shot 2021-05-20 at 9.01.41 PM.png
 

Portlander

Active Member
Joined
Apr 14, 2010
Messages
937
Reaction score
772
Max, you are the archBOSTON sleuth, where do you find this stuff? 282 feet to the top of the roof would make it the tallest building in Northern New England surpassing Manchester's City Hall Plaza by 7 feet. I can only hope!
 
Last edited:

Seanflynn78

Active Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2011
Messages
128
Reaction score
15
Any new updates on this project? I am curious if the current application will expire soon. Hopefully this tower gets built. I like the design. Plus Portland could use this type of urban housing.
 

Cosakita18

Active Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2016
Messages
494
Reaction score
350
Any new updates on this project? I am curious if the current application will expire soon. Hopefully this tower gets built. I like the design. Plus Portland could use this type of urban housing.
I'm fairly confident that since this project never had an active site plan or master plan, it wouldn't be grandfathered in from GND requirements...and I wouldn't be surprised if that killed or significantly altered the scope of the project in the same way as 385 Congress.

And with other hotel projects further along in the development pipeline, there is genuinely reason to be concerned about an over-supply of Hotel rooms in Portland, especially for a developer embarking on a major project like this.
 
Last edited:

Seanflynn78

Active Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2011
Messages
128
Reaction score
15
That's a shame given how the new green deal of Portland Maine will make a project of this size much more challenging to complete in a timely manner.
 

Top