General Portland Discussion

nomc

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For everything that doesn't fit anywhere else... I'll start...

I noticed that construction at the end of Morning St uncovered what looks like trolley tracks - which then made the cracks down the center of that street make sense. It surprised me to see them on this street and it made me wonder about the extent of the extinct streetcar system in Portland - is there a map or anything that outlines where the cars ran?
 

Corey

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matt.greeson

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71F77116-5F23-4D3E-BE58-B9417AC8D52D.png

I love this piece. One small bit: looks like one of the cart and stable houses is where the Section 8 complex is now.
 

nomc

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Not sure if you guys noticed, but the commercial spaces on York St (the 25 High St building) across from Hobson's Landing P3 are finally being filled! X-Golf has been opened for awhile and the final space on the corner of High and York says its leased. I didn't think these spaces were ever going to be used.
 

Max

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I'm curious what's going in the other space at High and York -- anyone know? I've seen them working on the buildout recently and they've got the permit app on the door but it doesn't indicate who the tenant will be. It's a huge space...I'm assuming restaurant / bar.

Hobson's Landing recently announced that a dentist has leased some of their existing commercial space, and there will be lots more available when phase 2 is complete. Even though the High/Commercial/York intersection is very busy with auto traffic and kind of unappealing from a pedestrian standpoint, perhaps it will become more inviting after Hobson's phase 2 is complete and these commercial spaces get filled in. There's still gonna be a ton of traffic coming off the bridge and a big gas station there, but maybe there can be some incremental aesthetic and safety improvements. I recall that there's also a years-in-the-making traffic study the city has been working on to potentially add traffic lights and/or pedestrian crossings on this part of Commercial, that could help too.
 

markhb

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I discovered something yesterday: Historic Aerials (historicaerials.com) has added new coverage of Greater Portland from 1986 and 1987. These somewhat fill in a gap that had existed between 1970 and 1997, and 1986 particularly includes things like:
  • Tukey's Bridge before the reconstruction, showing the Washington Ave. exits going off to the left on either end;
  • The Mall before the construction of Best Buy (or the Clark's Pond complex, for that matter)
  • Hadlock Field after its initial reconstruction (to AA standards) but before the Sea Dogs grandstand was built
I would've loved to see a 1980 dataset, before the second office tower boom of the 80's (i.e., before One City Center), but this is now the earliest version that shows a completed I-295.
 

Cosakita18

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MaineBiz reporting today Port Properties has acquired a significant amount of land in West Bayside. A total of 8 different properties. No firm plans yet but Port Properties is "Analyzing the potential for future investment throughout the six-acre site"

This is a huge amount of central, underutilized land. I would be VERY surprised if they weren't already working on plans for some of these parcels.

Article:
Port Property acquires West Bayside portfolio for $25M | Mainebiz.biz

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Portlander

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It will be interesting to see how Port Properties utilizes these properties and I had no idea that they had the financial resources to pull off an acquisition of this magnitude. On a side note, I was in the Public Market garage last Thursday taking photos and I noticed that the top four levels were vacant except for a couple of vehicles and the lower levels were far from full. I was under the impression that garage parking in the downtown area was at a premium and there waiting lists at most facilities so it struck me as a little odd.
 

Cosakita18

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It will be interesting to see how Port Properties utilizes these properties and I had no idea that they had the financial resources to pull off an acquisition of this magnitude. On a side note, I was in the Public Market garage last Thursday taking photos and I noticed that the top four levels were vacant except for a couple of vehicles and the lower levels were far from full. I was under the impression that garage parking in the downtown area was at a premium and there waiting lists at most facilities so it struck me as a little odd.
It's the same in essentially every garage downtown. I took a walk through all the big downtown garages on a Friday afternoon in early August (When you'd think parking demand is almost as high as it would ever get) and most of the garages were at least half empty.

It seems like there's a growing consensus that the overall supply of parking isn't necessarily the issue on the peninsula, it's that the inventory we have is managed quite haphazardly and inconsistently. It's a mixture of public and private ownership with often less than intuitive rate structures.

Also, it seems that most of the time when people say: "There's no parking on the peninsula!!" They often really mean: "There's no free and easy street parking directly in front of my destination" Downtown is actually drowning in parking capacity. It's just not managed well
 

Max

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I'd also say that using parking garages is not really engrained in the psyche of drivers in this area like it might be in Boston or NYC. Most people driving into Portland for a few hours are looking for the closest street parking they can find, and I bet for many the idea of using a parking garage doesn't even enter their mind.
 

markhb

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That goes double for residents who moved here later in life from upcountry. And the Public Market Garage closes at 5:30 and is not open on weekends, so it's useless for nightlife parking. (Pass holders apparently have 24/7 access, so it's useful for residential if you can afford it.)

That Port Properties purchase appears to be, at least in part, the old Betty Noyce / Libra portfolio. I wonder if offering some of it to the city for a new arena is a possibility... 😆
 

Portlander

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Good point Mark. Now that Bill Nemitz has retired from the Portland Press Herald a new arena might have a chance in that section of town. He wrote some scathing articles back then criticizing the gift of land and a portion of the costs of a new venue from the Libra Foundation and was not kind to Owen Wells who managed the Noyce estate. I do remember him using the "ego dome" reference and was strongly against the demolition of a few derelict housing units that would have displaced a handful of low income residents which the foundation promised to relocate to better housing. His negative opinion towards the project was instrumental in swaying public opinion and interest in a new arena and Cumberland County ended up spending over $30 million dollars years later to freshen up an aging venue without adding more capacity. From that period on I had new respect for the power of the press and had no hard feelings towards Mr Nemitz who was just doing his job as the editorial columnist.
 

PlantArch

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Good point Mark. Now that Bill Nemitz has retired from the Portland Press Herald a new arena might have a chance in that section of town. He wrote some scathing articles back then criticizing the gift of land and a portion of the costs of a new venue from the Libra Foundation and was not kind to Owen Wells who managed the Noyce estate. I do remember him using the "ego dome" reference and was strongly against the demolition of a few derelict housing units that would have displaced a handful of low income residents which the foundation promised to relocate to better housing. His negative opinion towards the project was instrumental in swaying public opinion and interest in a new arena and Cumberland County ended up spending over $30 million dollars years later to freshen up an aging venue without adding more capacity. From that period on I had new respect for the power of the press and had no hard feelings towards Mr Nemitz who was just doing his job as the editorial columnist.
That $30 million investment in the CCCC was expensive lipstick on that pig. It would be nice if folks would wake up to the possibility of creating an all new facility which would include a new arena and major conference/convention center/entertainment/hotel complex. Ideally it should be situated on the harbor side of the peninsula but options for that are quickly disappearing. There are just no facilities currently available or attractive enough to lure major events.
 

markhb

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Good point Mark. Now that Bill Nemitz has retired from the Portland Press Herald a new arena might have a chance in that section of town. He wrote some scathing articles back then criticizing the gift of land and a portion of the costs of a new venue from the Libra Foundation and was not kind to Owen Wells who managed the Noyce estate. I do remember him using the "ego dome" reference and was strongly against the demolition of a few derelict housing units that would have displaced a handful of low income residents which the foundation promised to relocate to better housing. His negative opinion towards the project was instrumental in swaying public opinion and interest in a new arena and Cumberland County ended up spending over $30 million dollars years later to freshen up an aging venue without adding more capacity. From that period on I had new respect for the power of the press and had no hard feelings towards Mr Nemitz who was just doing his job as the editorial columnist.
Of course, as things worked out we never got the new arena and Bayside gentrified anyway. (Full disclosure: as a Portland taxpayer I'm not sure I would have enthusiastically embraced having the P&L for an arena entirely on the city's balance sheet, as opposed to the whole county.)
 

Portlander

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There are just no facilities currently available or attractive enough to lure major events.
I agree but the requirements to land major music acts and related events has changed over the past decade and the pandemic didn't help. For years Portland hosted some of the biggest concerts which included Elton John, AC/DC, Billy Joel, Cher, Aerosmith and Garth Brooks with an 8500 seat capacity prior to the opening of Manchester's new venue. Once the now SNHU arena came on to the scene for promoters, the CCCC understandably began to see a decrease in shows due to it having around 3500 less seats. Now Manchester is drawing less top tier acts because of the revenue that can be made at 15,000 plus arenas like DCU Center in Worcester, TD Bank Garden in Boston and the XL Center in Hartford. If Portland were to ever build a "successful" new arena, at least 13,000 seats would be the minimum requirement in my opinion. In addition, more and more artists are choosing to tour during the summer and fall months and are utilizing the larger outdoor amphitheaters similar to the ones in Bangor and Guilford, NH.
 
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Portlander

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Tough call Mark and I owned property in Portland at the time also and probably would have gone along with it due to the amount the Noyce Foundation was contributing and my relentless civic pride that normally clouds my good judgement!
 

TC_zoid

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I've been going to some arenas around the country for work and noticed that they all have something CIA does not: VIP seating. The "luxury seating" at CIA is not true VIP seating. The VIP experience is seating for at least 30 people that has at least four tiered "normal" rows (up to around 20 seats) in the front, then behind an area with suite bar seating for around ten. There is a long countertop along the side wall with buffet style food offerings, and an attendant who pours drinks and services you. If the event is too loud or crazy and people need a break, a glass partition can partially close for conversations. At one point in the evening's event, a truly awesome design your own ice cream sundae cart rolls up outside the door (in the hallway) and everyone runs up to that like a kid to the ice cream truck. On the lower priced concourses, the food areas have true bars with cocktails and bar seating in which small openings allow one to partially see and feel the event/game. CIA would have to undergo at least another $50 million in renovations to do this. Perhaps more. Perhaps a lot, lot more. TD Garden just spent $100 million to do more of this concept on its upper decks. Yes, it's probably best to raze this storied building and build something else. Turn the massive pit at Rock Row into an underground parking garage and build a new arena on top of that. I hate that pit.
 

Portlander

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I know TC, but the county did the best they could with the budget they had to work with and that's the only space the architect could find for suites without raising the roof. There is one improvement that I am responsible for just after the renovations were completed. If you take a look at the photo you will notice steel braces (center left) that were added for support on the concrete vertical risers, they were silver in color and were hideous looking. I complained enough to finally convince the arena general manager and the county board chairman at the time to have all of them painted a color to match the concrete. Bottom photo (thanks to Corey) shows what they originally looked like from the Center Street side which were eventually hidden due to the new public space and loading dock addition.
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GIL

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That $30 million investment in the CCCC was expensive lipstick on that pig. It would be nice if folks would wake up to the possibility of creating an all new facility which would include a new arena and major conference/convention center/entertainment/hotel complex. Ideally it should be situated on the harbor side of the peninsula but options for that are quickly disappearing. There are just no facilities currently available or attractive enough to lure major events.
Agree that the CCCC investment may have been throwing good money after bad, but given the program outlined (conference/convention center/entertainment venue) why pay top dollar for real estate & drive the astronomical cost even higher on the waterfront? There’s more than enough space and less expensive land in Bayside, Libbytown, the Post Office site on Forest Avenue, or (as many have suggested) the Top of the Port site, where getting to/from such a big, windowless, inward-facing facility would be achieved more easily — if anyone could convince taxpayers those facilities are still worth the massive public subsidies.
 
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