Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

mainejeff

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It would be great for Portland to have a new modern arena that seats 8-10K for concerts.....6K for hockey/basketball. But times have changed.....it's just not worth the investment to pour tons of money into new arenas that have no tenants with deep pockets (NBA/NHL).
 

Dr. StrangeHat

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The premise that Portland "needs" a convention center is pretty similar to the premise that Portland "needs" a hockey arena. The city can obviously thrive without one - so why should a poor state government spend millions of dollars to force it to happen?
Agreed. This fantasy that Portland needs a convention center to draw tourists and thrive is similar to the fantasy that rural areas in Maine need a casino to draw tourists and thrive. It's archaic, low-effort thought, and every city and state in the Northeast is being fed the same line. Rock Row's convention center and entertainment complex will be suitable enough to bring conventions to the area, even if they're not directly downtown. This is obviously a different scale, but the Boston Convention Center is not within easy walking distance of "downtown" Boston, though it is within walking distance of the seaport. Does downtown Hartford see any boost to evening foot traffic from the Connecticut Convention Center? Last I checked, downtown Hartford was a veritable ghost town after dark.

As long as a viable transit connection is developed between Rock Row and downtown, and as long as Waterstone develops Rock Row as intended (i.e. food/beer hall, partially enclosed concert venue, amenities built in and around the improvements to the quarry aesthetic, etc.), then I think it would work and would not be at the expense of Maine taxpayers.
 
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Cosakita18

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Also probably worth pointing out that the political will to spend that much money on a project like this doesn’t exist right now. I can’t really see this bill passing.

I do think that there probably is a need for some kind of convention venue in the Portland area, but it’s worth recognizing that convention center projects can easily become “hollow” economic development. Look at all the cities that have invested massive amounts of money to create “entertainment districts” around their arenas and stadiums even though those venues sit empty for most of the year, or cities like Portland that have invested huge amounts of money to attract cruise ships even though Cruise passengers actually contribute very little to our local economy. Any convention venue, whether on the peninsula or at Rock Row should heavily integrated into a mixed-use site to ensure it doesn’t become a massive dead zone.

I’d also say that we sure as hell don’t need two convention venues within 5 miles of each other.The Rock Row project will likely meet our regions needs perfectly fine.
 
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markhb

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I am sure that the Convention Center bond issue will be labeled a "Portland bill" and never make it out of Appropriations, particularly since the same representative has put in a $14,000,000 request to build a real international passenger facility at the Jetport and an international bonded cargo warehouse at BGR. (I'm sure most of that would go to the Bangor warehouse; Portland actually has a sealable behind-the-scenes area that used to be Delta's they were planning to repurpose for CBP but the federal requirements kept getting longer ("Oh, you also need a 30-day USDA impound area for plants and pets."))
 

Cosakita18

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Anyone know what's going on with the Temple St. Garage? I don't see any signs of construction or renovation and to be blunt, it looks far worse than before. Does anyone know if work is ongoing or just paused?
 

Portlander

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It's finished. The city could not justify the funds for the upscale exterior trim work in the budget just as COVID hit last spring. The required maintenance and structural work was completed so the garage will hopefully be safe and rust free for another decade.
 

nomc

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Speaking of garages - what's happening to the Fore St Garage? Same maintenance/structural work?
 

Max

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Speaking of garages - what's happening to the Fore St Garage? Same maintenance/structural work?
I have no idea, but I do know that neighbors complain about the noise from it daily on the city's SeeClickFix app!
 

HarvardP

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The premise that Portland "needs" a convention center is pretty similar to the premise that Portland "needs" a hockey arena. The city can obviously thrive without one - so why should a poor state government spend millions of dollars to force it to happen?
Optimistic take: Portland is growing and the idea of conventions/trade shows will become palatable again, someday.

Realistic take: Nothing builds a hustlin' politician's resume (and war chest) like an orgy of developers, corporate hotels, trade companies, and vendors.
 

PWMFlyer

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There is a lack of event space anywhere in the area. WEX, Idexx, etc have to go out of state to hold meetings that require large amounts of space. Its not all about conventions....The CCCC does not have breakout rooms, hallway space, etc., The Holiday Inns space is good for small organizations but not WEX or Idexx. Idexx had there global meeting in Portland and had to use several places and buses to house this meeting. Being out at Rock Row is great for certain groups, but when coming from another country or another state, my first impression hopefully is not exit 8. Do you want to stay at Motel 6? and the other needle motels around that area. In 10 years, maybe....I want great restaurants, bars etc and be close to the action. I have been to conventions that are located outside the city..Its not fun, lack of transportation, no restaurants, horrible hotels/motels. Its not just Apple, Google, etc..its our large companies in Maine that need space....
 

cneal

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Look, if Idexx and WEX "need" meeting space, they should build it themselves. In fact, nothing's preventing them from doing so – but the fact that they haven't should tell you something.

Building meeting space is not the government's responsibility, and WEX and Idexx do not need our charity.
 

Seanflynn78

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There is a lack of event space anywhere in the area. WEX, Idexx, etc have to go out of state to hold meetings that require large amounts of space. Its not all about conventions....The CCCC does not have breakout rooms, hallway space, etc., The Holiday Inns space is good for small organizations but not WEX or Idexx. Idexx had there global meeting in Portland and had to use several places and buses to house this meeting. Being out at Rock Row is great for certain groups, but when coming from another country or another state, my first impression hopefully is not exit 8. Do you want to stay at Motel 6? and the other needle motels around that area. In 10 years, maybe....I want great restaurants, bars etc and be close to the action. I have been to conventions that are located outside the city..Its not fun, lack of transportation, no restaurants, horrible hotels/motels. Its not just Apple, Google, etc..its our large companies in Maine that need space....
Wasn't the game plan was the past renovation to the Cross Insurance Center was for 15 years? I understand this is an arena but having them attached or close by each other. Basically until a new arena convention center is built. I think a full-scale call convention center could be built on or near Thompson Point.
 

Portcity75

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Not to change topics, but has there ever been plans for the big flat dirt lot in the middle of east bayside? In back of coffee by design and trail across from fleet feet. What a perfect location for work force housing
 

Dr. StrangeHat

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Not to change topics, but has there ever been plans for the big flat dirt lot in the middle of east bayside? In back of coffee by design and trail across from fleet feet. What a perfect location for work force housing
GIS map suggests that much of the property is wetland, which may inhibit development:

1617819409057.png



Owner InformationANDERSON STREET REALTY LLC
PO BOX 1080
YARMOUTH ME 04096
 

TC_zoid

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I think a solution would be to build a space between CIA and the Holiday Inn that is above Spring Street. It would be high enough to allow traffic underneath. It would be one high floor starting about 30 feet up, and connecting usable space would be CIA and the Holiday Inn. Since it would be higher up, the northeastern side could have enormous windows (no solar gain) that would look out to the harbor. This would be an added appeal for conventions. It has to be in the center of Portland. People with money come for the nicer hotels, food, and the appeal of the working waterfront.
 
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markhb

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Spring Street air rights is something I hadn't thought of... my own idea was (Admittedly urban-renewally) to go on the north side of Pleasant St , just west of the old school and extending to either the Calderwood building or even the parking garage, with a pedestrian tunnel to connect to the CIA.

I don't believe WEX has need of a space larger than the State Theater or the Merrill.
 

GIL

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Covering part of Spring Street would further ruin the street for residents of Portland in the service of transient visitors attending conventions. The only footprint on the peninsula that could accommodate a CC is Top of the Port, where most people want to see towers, not wide, blank walls and loading docks where 18-wheelers are lined up before and after every event.

Rock Row site, paired with a high-frequency rail connection to the core would serve the “need” (if there IS a need).
 

Portlander

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I'd place an 80,000 sf convention center on the city owned Thames Street lot located between the Maine State Pier and the Ocean Gateway terminal. Massive footprint, postcard location, easy transportation access, cruise ships, new hotels nearby, Narrow Gauge railroad, walking trails, and within close proximity of WEX, Sun Life and Covetrus. The lot is large enough to accommodate another parking garage if needed, though conventioneers normally do not have vehicles. Imagine if the "Pikes Place" vision becomes a reality in the Maine State Pier warehouse in addition to the potential waterfront park we've been hearing about? They would combine to add another visitor point of interest which will greatly benefit downtown restaurants, shops and hotels. As previous posters have commented, no slight to Rock Row but a convention center needs to be located downtown in my opinion.
 

Dr. StrangeHat

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What about adding 2-3 floors to the top of the Spring Street parking garage for breakout rooms and smaller convention rooms. There could be full glass walls along the Spring Street side to create sweeping views of the harbor. They'd have to acquire the small parking lot in between the parking garage and MaineHealth (former BCBS) office building to create a loading dock and freight elevator, but you'd then have direct access to the arena for larger sessions of any conference, as well as exhibitors in the hallways and potentially a skyway connection to new convention space above the Holiday Inn parking garage directly across the street. That seems like the most efficient way to use existing convention space and the arena to expand convention capacity without taking up any new valuable real estate.
 

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