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!
Plus the buildings footprint is way too small to be useful as Class A office space. This would have definitely been a "pencil tower"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'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.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.