General Portland Discussion

If we want an accurate depiction of Portland we should just show them an empty parking lot or a building being torn down.
Portland could use a waterfront view spot that is elevated for GREAT pictures. Boston now has THE place to do that. In one direction it's downtown and the harbor, the other the Seaport's new hi-rises and the ICA. And nothing historic here except the boat. Not always a bad thing.


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The parking lot next to Ocean Gateway could be a great spot for something impressive... but I don't remember the rendering being all that impressive. Aren't they starting construction on that soon?
Wow. Around 2006-2007 I was living in the North End, and would often walk that path along the water to visit the ICA. Aside from the museum itself, almost none of the other buildings in that photo were there at the time... Crazy how much that area has changed.
Wow. Around 2006-2007 I was living in the North End, and would often walk that path along the water to visit the ICA. Aside from the museum itself, almost none of the other buildings in that photo were there at the time... Crazy how much that area has changed.
Yes, it certainly has. (And LOVE the North End.) I follow the Boston arch scene closely as I love the city (how can you not?), went to college in Back Bay, and my brother is an architect (also in Back Bay). Question. Is it simply me and my impression that Boston does not appear to have a serious homeless and migrant problems? Portland is all over the news with its. I do know this. Boston's foundation of education is key to its growth and prosperity. I have several friends from China who graduated college here in the U.S., and they tell me all or most of their friends and families want to come here because of this. I know at one time Thornton Academy had around 150 Chinese students, but the school was pressured to bring these numbers down to I believe a third of that number now (over 300 foreign students are in dorms). Chinese families see the easy and direct train route to Boston and want their kids going to Harvard or MIT. So, that said, I think Portland can also create an educational foundation for prosperity. It's so close and easy to get to Boston, of which is becoming one of the most important cities in the world now due to not only education, but notable tech and Big Pharma. Boston seems to be rising and Portland feels like it's almost in stagnation with its problems. Solution. I think Portland should give the big green light to Roux. Whatever they want to build. Ignore the complaining neighbors. Most are old and not the future. We need a massive Roux to compete. And, more of everything for USM. Currently, the quality of its programs is nothing to brag about. It's not a comparable school when measured against most state universities. This could change. Figure out a way to build more and bring in top professors and give them the funds to create better programs. Sure, the neighbors will complain. They always do. But they are old and not the future. Biotech is one key area for USM to focus on. Also, a bigger and more prominent business school. And, UMO is expanding and increasing the prominence of its engineering programs, and that is good, but it's not an easily accessible location to Boston, where all or much is happening. Create a substantial one for USM. I could list the new and expanding companies and what they are doing in Boston, and it is almost scary in importance. From stem cell research to Big Pharma to the latest in A.I. and robotics, it's truly exciting. Portland needs to get with it or it's all basically going to stay in Boston. The latter has smart competent people running their city. What do we have in Portland?
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As Boston is New England's downtown and commerce center, Portland is Maine's downtown and commerce center. Boston embraces it and shows its influence outside of New England. Many in Portland just want it to remain a small city by the sea and the interior of Maine doesn't want to acknowledge the role Portland does/can play. Greater Portland needs to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up, even if it's 300+ years old. That will take strong civic leadership, foresight, and tough decisions, which don't seem to be on any display.
The metro area is well over 500,000 in population. Come up with a plan for how the region will grow to and accommodate 750,000. Call it the 750k Plan or something catchy. Signal to the businesses in Maine and beyond that the intent is for the region to grow in an orderly fashion, invest in & develop infrastructure, and economic opportunity for Maine. That would also send a message for higher education to invest in the region as the need and growing labor pool would follow. Universities will feed off that synergy and activity as they have around the country. Maine has the natural resources to support the growth and you can have a plan with plenty of public involvement on where and how to grow. Such as do you want to promote additional sprawl or do you want to identify and create economic and activity nodes around Greater Portland that focus on higher density residential, vertical development and transit options. It will do it on it's own as we've seen with limited success, but identify and plan for it.
Perhaps the City of Portland could develop a Peninsula Plan, or similar, where you identify how to add 5,000 (or another total) housing units on the peninsula and how you plan to connect them. Public involvement can determine methods, housing types, address long-term homelessness goals, and maybe expand going above 18-stories and where to locate that. The office tower needs will be on hiatus but the need won't disappear and the mix of uses can all support the downtown and peninsula, build the tax base, and work to reduce the non-profit tax-exempt parcels.
Now, this being Maine this would be tough for many to entertain, but positive growth and evolution can result from being in comfortably uncomfortable situations. Greater Portland's population will continue to grow with no plan or serious discussion, why not be pro-active and go on offense for a change rather than continuously having to be reactive and playing from behind as political inactivity and lack of will paralyze and set the city back?
Great post Desert. It's frustrating to see the State of Maine go kicking and screaming into the future. As you stated, the City of Portland is going to grow.....with to without planning. Portland needs to protect the things that people love about it while acknowledging that it needs to evolve. In comparing Boston and Portland.....the one thing that Boston does extremely well is accessibility and transportation. Everyone knows that Boston is extremely pricey to live in.....yet you see locals and visitors everywhere. It's like Boston is one big's fantastic. I don't feel that in Portland despite its small land mass and scale. The city has already messed up much of the waterfront yet there is still some opportunity to salvage some of it and increase accessibility for locals and visitors alike. Bayside is still pretty much a blank slate and should absolutely be master planned as an urban magnet for a mix of young people & professionals. It can become a destination type gateway to the city with dining, entertainment and retail with high density housing.
The city of Boston is influenced by its integrated and participatory intelligentsia. When a building or a park is constructed or landscaped, it is usually well-thought-out. They all seem to care what people will think about it, perhaps partly from ego, but nevertheless, it is usually highly functional and pleasing to the eye. The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway is a prime example. Portland needs to fix its eastern waterfront. Directly across South Portland needs to plan its. So far, it's not looking good with both for inclusivity reasons.
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I don't have a pic of how it turned out... but you all know, it's basically the same parking lot with two red swings.

...and then on the other side of Ocean Gateway, the Portland Harbor Common...

If I remember correctly, they didn't have anywhere close to the budget needed to execute that plan in the top image, so the parks department ended up scrounging up some old granite curb pieces and stuff they had lying around so they could at least do something. As far as I know, the current situation there is considered temporary, and they still hope to improve it in some form.

View attachment 37703

I don't have a pic of how it turned out... but you all know, it's basically the same parking lot with two red swings.

...and then on the other side of Ocean Gateway, the Portland Harbor Common...

View attachment 37704
As a landscape designer this visual makes me laugh and cringe at the same time. Someone put all of five minutes of effort into it. Sad. It seems Portland will never grow up and take itself seriously.
Anyone know what's happening with Congress Square? Given that things are so far behind I'm surprised construction hasn't resumed.
It's disappointing that there's been no activity at Congress Square and we're halfway through May. According to the published timeline, the reconstruction of both Congress Square park and the PMA "plaza" are to occur in 2023, but if they don't get started soon I don't see how it gets done this year. I'm also disappointed that the Schwartz Building still seems to be stuck in neutral. A new project manager came on last year and their website said the building would be occupied by the end of 2022 but that didn't happen and it looks like glacial progress at street level. Congress Square could be a vibrant area once again if these projects come to fruition, especially with the PMA addition on Free Street (granted that's a few years from reality).
The contractor probably departed to do another job and will come back when "they feel like it." They can do that, or in Maine, I guess. There's not much competition around here due to few who are willing to work this type of job. I think the last estimate for Maine was 25,000 additional blue-collar workers (or those legal to work) are needed by 2025? Good luck on that.
How to do an infrastructure project in Maine:

1) Get about halfway done
2) Leave it as an unfinished mess for 2 years
3) Come back and hastily finish it in a way that makes the end result look cheap and sloppy and careless.
That's every infrastructure project that deals with Federal and state money. I-84 thru Hartford has been under construction for over 30 years. NH seems to be the only one that gets things done.
Gordon Contracting is currently working on completing the William Clarke Drive/Saco Street/New Gorham Road/Main Street intersection re-build in Westbrook. As folks can probably imagine, they've managed that project just as poorly as the Congress Square project. I'm sure they'll pivot back to Congress Square as the Westbrook project wraps.

And hopefully nobody awards them a bid on anything requiring technical construction management ever again.
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