Portland Foreside | 58 Fore Street | Portland

TC_zoid

Active Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2014
Messages
237
Reaction score
82
This development appears to be going quite "south" of its original plans. The marina is walled off from the public, and is a de facto play facility for the rich. Now, a four story insurance building with little architectural significance, something appropriate for the suburbs, is the focus for this new part of Portland. Why can't four floors become 12 floors, with the footprint public space now made bigger? Surely it can't be a height issue as nearby, precious protected Eastern Prom has two 13 story "towers." Those aren't an eyesore, or are they? This could have been an all-glass building, irregular shaped and tiered, with some interesting accent materials. You know, good modern architecture. For inspiration, look at London, as many of its new buildings adjoin old architecture going back to the 1700s. Glass fits in with old buildings, if done right (Hancock Tower in Boston next to Trinity Church). The city of Portland amazes me. Everyone is always so spirited about what gets built, and then when it does, get built, it falls flat in our faces. However, there will be many new workers streaming out of this building during the daytime to lunch in the area. That's a plus, but still, looking at this structure will remind me of the outlying Maine Mall area, with its Cracker Barrel and Olive Garden.
 

TC_zoid

Active Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2014
Messages
237
Reaction score
82
The historic board fought so very, very hard to keep all of the dilapidated de facto 1930s era manufacturing buildings on this site. The majority of which are nothing but ramshackle sheds--zero arch value and zero justification to renovate and preserve them. Their priorities are all messed up. For years they let the Abyssinian House fall apart. However, there is not a peep to be heard from the city on the Sun Life structure, despite it's prominent location. EVERYONE who comes to the waterfront will walk past this. It looks like a 70s designed headquarters for IBM. If the product wasn't insurance (zzzzzz), and could have been Tesla or Apple, I'd probably be okay with it (though they probably wouldn't be in a structure like this as it would cheapen their brands). But insurance? Really? And, that they are going to have 22 workers enrolled at the nearby Roux Institute. What, to get some A.I. knowledge for selling insurance? This is P.R. subterfuge. Also, I read in the PPH article that the second floor will be designed for food vendors, so it will have an indoor food court. I thought that was to be in the renovated existing buildings. Yes? Well then, looks like we will get that Cracker Barrel and Olive Garden after all, and new iterations of Taco Bell, Sbarro, Orange Julius, Panda Express, Amatos, Mrs. Fields Cookies, and a coin operated rocking horse for the kids.
 
Last edited:

TC_zoid

Active Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2014
Messages
237
Reaction score
82
Drove past this last week. The foundation is well underway. If indeed, the second floor is to become a public food court, it could be a happening vibe around here in the summer. I booked a schooner at the marina with friends last September, and it was a lot of fun. The views from this area are outstanding. The key is to not make the area exclusive the way that Rowes Wharf in Boston became. Very off-putting, that place, unless you have the moola to spend.
 

TC_zoid

Active Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2014
Messages
237
Reaction score
82
"A Brighter Waterfront"? Somewhat. I'm bummed we didn't get something more substantial, as in an exciting and up-and-coming high-tech company. But even insurance sales people can create area energy, yes? Notable companies in California are leaving for Texas (Tesla, Apple, Samsung). I'd rather work on the Portland waterfront than the aforementioned, except, there are those taxes to consider. Can you imagine the building boom for Portland if taxes were in line with those in Texas? Taxes in Maine and Portland are obtrusive, and now with new rent control laws, even more disincentive. It's been thoroughly researched and argued that the primary reason for housing shortages is because of restrictive zoning laws. Portland is the capital of regressive zoning. Well there you go.
 
Last edited:

Tom Nevers

New member
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
Messages
57
Reaction score
67
"A Brighter Waterfront"? Somewhat. I'm bummed we didn't get something more substantial, as in an exciting and up-and-coming high-tech company. But even insurance sales people can create area energy, yes? Notable companies in California are leaving for Texas (Tesla, Apple, Samsung). I'd rather work on the Portland waterfront than the aforementioned, except, there are those taxes to consider. Can you imagine the building boom for Portland if taxes were in line with those in Texas? Taxes in Maine and Portland are obtrusive, and now with new rent control laws, even more disincentive. It's been thoroughly researched and argued that the primary reason for housing shortages is because of restrictive zoning laws. Portland is the capital of regressive zoning. Well there you go.
A search for Sun Life jobs in Maine largely yields back of house jobs, mostly in Finance and Operations/Claims. Likely good paying, middle-middle class jobs that provide a decent amount of disposable income. Incidentally, I see more IT than sales positions. No, the addition of Sun Life isn't going to be the one thing that creates an environment producing numerous new tech startups (I think that's what you meant by "area energy"?), but it does build on Wex's investment and all of those new employees are within easy walking distance of dozens of local eateries and other businesses. I wish a larger building that includes residential was being constructed but, overall, it's a win.

Which taxes do you mean? Corporate taxes and the sales tax are higher in Texas than Maine and Texas has one of the highest average property tax rates in the country.

Coastal New England is definitely full of folks who believe the've found their little slice of paradise and don't want to see it changed but that sentiment is hardly unique to our corner of the country. I do agree there are numerous zoning changes that would benefit urban life in Maine. Each municipality should consider the removal of most set back requirements, removing all parking requirements, removing most density limits and removing most height caps. In Portland, Recode appears to allow more flexibility and the recent decision to not turn Munjoy Hill into an historic district are two recent instances of the City moving in the right direction. But it's certainly a slow process.

As a transplant to Maine who sometimes misses expansive urban life, I occasionally remind myself that:
  1. the urbanism that is here is pretty good!
  2. in the next 4-5 decades (my lifetime) no cities in Maine are, barring massive displacement due to climate change, likely to be large or even medium sized in the context of the rest of USA; and
  3. you can always go on vacation :)
 

TC_zoid

Active Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2014
Messages
237
Reaction score
82
A search for Sun Life jobs in Maine largely yields back of house jobs, mostly in Finance and Operations/Claims. Likely good paying, middle-middle class jobs that provide a decent amount of disposable income. Incidentally, I see more IT than sales positions. No, the addition of Sun Life isn't going to be the one thing that creates an environment producing numerous new tech startups (I think that's what you meant by "area energy"?), but it does build on Wex's investment and all of those new employees are within easy walking distance of dozens of local eateries and other businesses. I wish a larger building that includes residential was being constructed but, overall, it's a win.

Which taxes do you mean? Corporate taxes and the sales tax are higher in Texas than Maine and Texas has one of the highest average property tax rates in the country.

Coastal New England is definitely full of folks who believe the've found their little slice of paradise and don't want to see it changed but that sentiment is hardly unique to our corner of the country. I do agree there are numerous zoning changes that would benefit urban life in Maine. Each municipality should consider the removal of most set back requirements, removing all parking requirements, removing most density limits and removing most height caps. In Portland, Recode appears to allow more flexibility and the recent decision to not turn Munjoy Hill into an historic district are two recent instances of the City moving in the right direction. But it's certainly a slow process.

As a transplant to Maine who sometimes misses expansive urban life, I occasionally remind myself that:
  1. the urbanism that is here is pretty good!
  2. in the next 4-5 decades (my lifetime) no cities in Maine are, barring massive displacement due to climate change, likely to be large or even medium sized in the context of the rest of USA; and
  3. you can always go on vacation :)
State tax is the big one--Texas has none, as does Tennessee. Both these states are seeing phenomenal growth. The company that I work for is probably going to move to Texas for this reason alone. Another thing, and it's a big one, is that Texas has far more to choose from in regards to labor. From the lowest to the highest, it's there. Maine is the opposite--we hear this all the time--as companies can't find the appropriate labor. As for Foreside office space, I was hoping for some spillover from the tech that's locating to Boston's Seaport district. Amazon's two new towers (the first is done by the fall) consists of 3,000 workers--A.I., cloud computing, robotics. That's some serious high wages and brain power. I'd like to see some of that walking around Portland instead of clerical worker transplants from the Maine Mall area, content with eating at the Olive Garden.
 

Urban World

New member
Joined
Aug 12, 2020
Messages
21
Reaction score
20
This building is hideous. But it's less hideous than what it's replacing I suppose. And I acknowledge that cost constraints likely played a role in its design. But it's nothing to be excited about. And I agree on the tax front (Texas is seeing growth for the reasons you mentioned and because of the lower overall cost of living in terms of real estate).
 

mainejeff

Active Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2010
Messages
272
Reaction score
68
Ugh....I sure hope that this thing looks better in reality. Fingers crossed.
 

mainejeff

Active Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2010
Messages
272
Reaction score
68
As an aside to the power lines....


I know that this isn't such a big deal in Portland.....but up here in Central Maine.....power outages have been rampant over the past year. This article confirms that Maine is worst in the nation!
 

nomc

New member
Joined
Sep 3, 2020
Messages
52
Reaction score
56
I know that this isn't such a big deal in Portland.....but up here in Central Maine.....power outages have been rampant over the past year. This article confirms that Maine is worst in the nation!
I live near this project and I want to say I loose power a few times a year - one of the fairly recent ones was long enough for me to throw the fridge out. So when I see the ancient, crooked poles out in front of the new Wex building I definitely don't get a warm fuzzy feeling.
 

Top