Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

PWMFlyer

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Blame the Mainway Project. 70's architecture throughout. Its hard to fix something that had no character from the start. Back then they looked great...LOL I bet the same will happen when people look back at all the cheap apartment and condo buildings around Portland in the next 20 years. Especially from Portland Housing Authority and Avesta.
 

cneal

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@PWMFlyer - Every architectural style goes though a period of disillusionment in middle age. In the 1960s, they were tearing down art deco buildings we'd kill to have today; 1960s/1970s brutalist and modernist buildings (like the UHaul building on Marginal Way) are already coming back in style, even as 1980s-style mall architecture and "international style" buildings are getting torn down. Personally, I feel like the failed retail/food court at 1 City Center, with its goofy atrium and travertine tile floors, feels *much* more dated than these two office buildings; in a few more years, that goofiness will probably be rare enough that it will feel special again.

Personally, I don't understand why the landlords of 2 Monument Way haven't converted their dead ground-floor parking into leasable retail space – with its corner location at Congress and Temple, it could be one of the more valuable retail spaces in the city (especially after all the effort they've put into improving the sidewalk along Temple).

Besides, in its current use as a parking lot, it's got an extremely inefficient layout – most of the square footage is driveway aisle, and it only fits 5-6 cars anyhow.
 

markhb

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My second least favorite after 511 Congress with its dark gothish exterior which looks it's most morbid on an overcast gloomy day. I'm giving the Holiday Inn a pass because it's use is lodging and it's exterior has been recently improved. In my travels, it seems like every mid to large sized city in the country was cursed with a similar type of hotel structure along with a low income high rise like Franklin Towers. Two Monument Square's appearance is too squat and it would be a perfect candidate in my opinion to add additional floors (tapered) which was actually discussed years ago. Though it is similar in height to One Monument Square to the roofline, it's missing the larger mechanical crown which balances 1MS out much better and gives it a taller looking profile.
511 is actually one of my favorites, but then I also have a warm place in my heart for the pre-Regency Market Street, which very much felt like Gotham City. I also really liked the white Holiday Inn; sure it could have been washed periodically, but at least it defied the city's brick fetish.
 

mainejeff

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I like Portland's brick fetish...it defines an old New England city. That being said....I'd love to see more glass. The tacky faux concrete/stucco paneling has been way overused though....yeah, I know....it's cheap compared to glass and masonry.

Article is from 2019 but fits the bill when it comes to Portland residential construction....

 

Tom Nevers

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I don't mind the building at 511 Congress but the plaza in front of it often seems dead. Anyone of have a differing opinion or thoughts on what discourages people from hanging out there?
 

Portlander

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Plaza is not large enough, too close to Congress Street, no shade, continuous delivery trucks, Metro bus stop at the corner, zero privacy and occasional use by unsavory individuals who like to sit on the brick wall in front tend to keep downtown workers and families away. There is also nothing of interest to attract tourists like there is in Monument Square, Tommy's Park or Post Office Park. Credit needs to go to the current owner who has made substantial improvements to the building's lobby along with the completion of the new garage on Brown Street and management does their best to keep the plaza clean and safe.
 

Tom Nevers

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I wonder if it's less the size and more the design. It seems like it could be reconfigured to provide more seating and, to your point, maybe a table or two with an umbrella or other shade structure. The plaza currently doesn't lend itself to folks enjoying tea from Soakology, or really any other food or drink, due to the lack of surfaces to rest them on.

I'm inclined to disagree about proximity to Congress and a bus stop being factors. You don't have to walk far down Congress before encountering the packed sidewalk outside Taco Escobar.

Next slice I get from Otto's I'm eating in the plaza at 511 Congress.
 

Portlander

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Great point Tom on the proximity to Congress Street, it's more of a personal choice due to my lack of enthusiasm for sidewalk dining on a busy street and I may be in the minority. The busses use the limited parking section as their final approach to the corner bus stop and the older ones are loud and give the gift of exhaust fumes. I think a few tables with umbrellas are an excellent idea but the plaza's incline from Congress Street may limit reconfiguration options. The sculpture in the front was a nice addition a few years ago and added some much need color to the plaza.
 

markhb

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When it first opened, the plaza occupants may have been more of a draw, at least for foot traffic. Soakology was a Depositors Trust bank branch, the huge storefront to the left of the plaza was the HQ branch of Maine Savings, there was a Deering Ice Cream (a local chain that made its own ice cream and had a menu similar to Friendly's for those who don't know) and a Bookland.
 

DanielPWM19

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The developers of the Mercy Hospital site have started reaching out to neighbors with their preliminary plans for redevelopment. I sat in on the presentation they gave to the West End Neighborhood Association the other night, and I was a bit surprised at just how extensive of a development they're imagining.

They're partnering with a senior housing agency to develop one portion of the site and with CHOM to develop affordable housing on another. They're really looking to maximize use of the property, and I suspect they're going to get some pushback on the density from neighbors. For example they're proposing row housing on Winter Street that would line up with the sidewalk (no set backs) at the maximum height of 45 feet, and there was quite a bit of grumbling on this call about that.

Anyway they emphasized it's all very preliminary at this point but they want to be ready to begin construction in April 2022 when the hospital vacates the premises, and finish construction by the end of 2023.

I tried to grab a couple screenshots from their presentation:

View attachment 5705

View attachment 5706
I love this ... it blows my mind that anyone in this neighborhood would hate this. That street could really use some updating. Anything is better than looking at the empty parking lot and back of the Mercy building.
 

Max

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Has there been any more talk about this project happening? Would be beautiful.
There is a master development plan in the works for this parcel, 385 Congress. The developers have hinted at 3-4 buildings with some residential, commercial and congregate care uses.
 

TC_zoid

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A bit confused on this development. A while back it was on a much bigger scale, then the hospital got caught overbilling the state by over 50 million for reimbursements, and so, perhaps this had something to do with the downsizing? I drove past the site today and there is a notable sized addition underway connected to the back of the main building, and then the one above, a small separate structure (the pic from Corey). SMRT is the architect, but the designs on their website appear quite different then the actual building excavation and first steel footprints. Anyone have a current sketch, etc.?
 

Tom Nevers

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TC_zoid

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At the Mercy site, what is the separate structure under construction? Office? Small parking garage? That was not shown or discussed in the PPH' most recent article on the addition. The final project has been dramatically scaled down which is not good, in my opinion. Healthcare is growing fast in Maine with the underlying conditions, overweight baby boomers retiring. And, procedures are less in Boston (PPH article) as competition is non-existent for many procedures in Southern Maine. I'm guessing the $53 million the hospital overbilled the state for has something to do with it (the hospital created a scapegoat for that by firing an employee--see PPH article). The project needs at least a 500 car garage connected to the hospital. It also needs a space with large windows for people to relax and eat in--views looking south and west from an upper floor would be smart. Also, Maine Medical has a walking, relaxing area with the Western Prom. At "Mercy," patients that can go outside by being pushed in wheel chairs (very common) will have a nice view of train tracks and a massive parking garage (Maine Med). They should have developed the little cesspool pond into something botantically rich (a designed park). Relaxing environments help healing. This project is underwhelming for the hospital's needs, and in a few years when nearly all the baby boomers are frequent visitors to the hospital, and beds are all filled, there will be discussions for another expansion. But it's the Maine way, I guess--build less and put the needed additional out of mind until its grossly deficient.
 
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markhb

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At the Mercy site, what is the separate structure under construction? Office? Small parking garage?
From the plans on the city portal, an Ambulatory Surgery Center. And yes, Maine's policy regarding the Certificate of Need process for hospitals is to be conservative when expanding capacity.
 

portlandneedsnewarena

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At the Mercy site, what is the separate structure under construction? Office? Small parking garage? That was not shown or discussed in the PPH' most recent article on the addition. The final project has been dramatically scaled down which is not good, in my opinion. Healthcare is growing fast in Maine with the underlying conditions, overweight baby boomers retiring. And, procedures are less in Boston (PPH article) as competition is non-existent for many procedures in Southern Maine. I'm guessing the $53 million the hospital overbilled the state for has something to do with it (the hospital created a scapegoat for that by firing an employee--see PPH article). The project needs at least a 500 car garage connected to the hospital. It also needs a space with large windows for people to relax and eat in--views looking south and west from an upper floor would be smart. Also, Maine Medical has a walking, relaxing area with the Western Prom. At "Mercy," patients that can go outside by being pushed in wheel chairs (very common) will have a nice view of train tracks and a massive parking garage (Maine Med). They should have developed the little cesspool pond into something botantically rich (a designed park). Relaxing environments help healing. This project is underwhelming for the hospital's needs, and in a few years when nearly all the baby boomers are frequent visitors to the hospital, and beds are all filled, there will be discussions for another expansion. But it's the Maine way, I guess--build less and put the needed additional out of mind until its grossly deficient.
It is Mercy's new Ambulatory Surgery Center.
 

PortlandLifeGuy

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At the Mercy site, what is the separate structure under construction? Office? Small parking garage? That was not shown or discussed in the PPH' most recent article on the addition. The final project has been dramatically scaled down which is not good, in my opinion. Healthcare is growing fast in Maine with the underlying conditions, overweight baby boomers retiring. And, procedures are less in Boston (PPH article) as competition is non-existent for many procedures in Southern Maine. I'm guessing the $53 million the hospital overbilled the state for has something to do with it (the hospital created a scapegoat for that by firing an employee--see PPH article). The project needs at least a 500 car garage connected to the hospital. It also needs a space with large windows for people to relax and eat in--views looking south and west from an upper floor would be smart. Also, Maine Medical has a walking, relaxing area with the Western Prom. At "Mercy," patients that can go outside by being pushed in wheel chairs (very common) will have a nice view of train tracks and a massive parking garage (Maine Med). They should have developed the little cesspool pond into something botantically rich (a designed park). Relaxing environments help healing. This project is underwhelming for the hospital's needs, and in a few years when nearly all the baby boomers are frequent visitors to the hospital, and beds are all filled, there will be discussions for another expansion. But it's the Maine way, I guess--build less and put the needed additional out of mind until its grossly deficient.
It is Mercy's new Ambulatory Surgery Center.
 

TC_zoid

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From the plans on the city portal, an Ambulatory Surgery Center. And yes, Maine's policy regarding the Certificate of Need process for hospitals is to be conservative when expanding capacity.
I don't think Maine Med got that memo. Theirs is a serious expansion, and the total footprint is actually double of what you see on the hill. Add the expanding Scarborough campus, the former Osteopathic Hospital, several outpatient facilities, and the giant mill building converted to office space (billing) in Westbrook and this hospital is nearly out-of-control with expansion. Mercy's footprint is miniscule, comparatively, and they won't be competitive. And check out Mercy's initial 2014 proposal that can be found in the Bangor Daily News. It looks to be 10 times bigger than the final. (If you put together all of Maine Med's space, all over the city, it's one of the biggest hospitals in the world. Compare all visits, etc. too--not just actual beds.)
 
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