Portland Population Growth(?)

mainejeff

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For as long as I can remember, Portland has been in the 60K range (give or take). With all of the recent construction of residential units as well as the well-documented immigration to Portland........is the city's population finally growing? Not sure there are any hard numbers out there besides the 2010 Census.........just seems that sooner rather than later, Portland should start showing a significant increase in population growth, no?
 
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Patrick

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For as long as I can remember, Portland has been in the 60K range (give or take). With all of the recent construction of residential units as well as the well-documented immigration to Portland........is the city's population finally growing? Not sure there are any hard numbers out there besides the 2010 Census.........just seems that sooner rather than later, Portland should start showing a significant increase in population growth, no?
With the exception of marginal growth between 1980-90 this is the first census Portland has grown since 1950, probably for the reasons you cited amongst others. I wouldn't look for too much growth, however, because the number of urban residential units constructed still pales in comparison to residential subdivisions in the suburbs. Those projects are smaller and less interesting, and so gain less attention, but they are far more plentiful. Portland would have to build 7 high rise towers (the biggest proposal in its history, probably) to house 670 units, in order to grow by about 1,200 people. In fact, that's what Maritime Landing at full occupancy would likely accomplish. If you are talking growing to 100,000 people, start thinking mid-rises (traditional urbanism) in places like Morrills corner, Deering Center, etc. and tower after tower downtown. The older population statistics came from large families in small houses. That's not standard anymore. Downtown has started to see some "micro efficiencies" or at least a Portland version of this concept, but that's for market niches, not average housing, which today takes up more space than ever.
 

Dr. StrangeHat

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The thing with Portland is its physical size. The city only has 21 square miles of land to build on, and much of that is already developed as residential neighborhoods. If you look at the Google map of Portland, then you can see that there really isn't much more land to build on, at least land that is suitable to build residential structures. There's probably no more than 5-6 square miles of open buildable land, and most of that is more suited for commercial/industrial/retail.

The only way Portland expands to 100,000, as Patrick notes, it to build up, and that would mean residential towers everywhere. While residential demand remains high in Portland, I'm not quite sure there is or will be enough commerce to support Portland at 100,000 with over a half million people in the metro area already. A major employer or two (e.g. 3,000+ employees) would have to either move here or start and expand greatly here in order to support a major increase in the population.

Consider this - Portland would have to grow at a clip almost 9% every 10 years in order to hit 100,000 by 2060 (50 years from the 2010 census). While that’s not unheard of in this country in areas where there is buildable/suitable land, I just don't see 9% happening here. I'm not quite sure I'd want that anyway. I lived in Greater Boston for three years before I came running home to Portland last year. Greater Boston was just a little too crowded for my liking. I like that Portland has all of the amenities of a big city without the crowding. I like an urban environment like Portland, where I have the ability to get to a rural environment with 15 minutes, and I simply don't like crowding.
 
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Dr. StrangeHat

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Another thing to consider - if you combine Portland, South Portland and Westbrook, then you have a city of nearly 109,000 people as of the 2010 census and a land area of about 53 square miles. In terms of land area, that is still a small city compared to most of the largest cities in the U.S. Of the 100 largest cities by population in the U.S., only Boston, Long Beach, Miami and Oakland are smaller than 53 quare miles in land area.

The combined city of Portland, South Portland and Westbrook would be the 244th largest city by population in the U.S., which would be bigger than some notable cities like Wilmington, NC, Lowell, MA, Pueblo, CO, Fargo, ND, Cambridge, MA and Green Bay, WI.
 

grittys457

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People used to pop out ten kids like it was nothing. Now three is a crazy number of kids to have
 

KentXie

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Another thing to consider - if you combine Portland, South Portland and Westbrook, then you have a city of nearly 109,000 people as of the 2010 census and a land area of about 53 square miles. In terms of land area, that is still a small city compared to most of the largest cities in the U.S. Of the 100 largest cities by population in the U.S., only Boston, Long Beach, Miami and Oakland are smaller than 53 quare miles in land area.

The combined city of Portland, South Portland and Westbrook would be the 244th largest city by population in the U.S., which would be bigger than some notable cities like Wilmington, NC, Lowell, MA, Pueblo, CO, Fargo, ND, Cambridge, MA and Green Bay, WI.
Just want to note that San Francisco is also smaller than 53 square miles in land area.
 

Seanflynn78

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I like to think of Portland as a "mini" east coast San Francisco. Many parallels between the two cities physical and geographical make up. Portland is on the rise, the population will continue to grow and would not be surprised by 2020 to have a population near 75k.
I know LePage wants to get rid of the income tax at some point, and that would def. make Portland a boom town again and hurt New Hampshire's appeal to people looking to relocate.
Has anyone heard any news regarding Thompson Point?? Is the project actually going to happen?? Have not read anything recently regarding the project.
 

mainejeff

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If LePage actually got no income tax pushed through.......that would definitely be his legacy because he is a one termer for sure. If Maine got rid of income tax, it would be HUGE for the state to attract new commerce and residents! It would be a big blow to NH as well.
 

Dr. StrangeHat

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While the idea of no income tax is attractive, the flip side is that the State would need to replace that revenue somehow. It would likely lead to higher property taxes and higher sales taxes, which would have much more negative impact on businesses vs. the positive impact of no income tax. No income tax benefits individuals the most, with businesses seeing indirect benefits through increased spending. Higher property taxes, on the other hand, would impact those that usually have the most income to spend (property owners), thus offsetting for any gains seen from no income tax. An increased sales tax also cuts into the increase in spending from no income tax. But the higher property taxes would have the biggest impact on businesses through increased expenses to operate facilities. The bigger the business, the bigger the increased property tax expense (either directly for businesses that own their own property or indirectly through higher leases).

In other words, nothing really changes if we get rid of the income tax. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. You maybe attract more people to the state, but you will likely attract less business.

And the only way you have no income tax AND no increases in property and/or sales tax is to vastly cut expenses for the State. Since the biggest expenses for the State are education and transportation, then you risk creating a less educated work force (which would make it more difficult to attract new business to the State and create new business within the State) and a degrading infrastructure (which would make it more difficult to transport new products created in Maine outside of the State, also making it unattractive to businesses).

So, while the idea is nice, the more likely reality is that it wouldn’t have a net positive impact.

Besides, now that the Democrats have full control of the State Legislature, LePage won’t be able to get any of his initiatives passed in the next two years anyway.

Sorry to get all political for a moment, but I felt compelled to at least counter the idea of eliminating the income tax. Now back to your regularly scheduled discussion on development in Portland.
 
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Corey

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I though people liked Lepage?
I am hoping that was meant to be funny!

On the topic of population, wikipedia notes that Portland's highest population was for the 1950 census, with a population of 77,634. My understanding is that a lot of the WW2-era growth came from the jobs provided by the ship building industry (primarily in South Portland). Plus you can factor in that families each had more children back then. I do think we could reach that population number again in several decades, but it's hard to imagine it going much higher than that given the factors already sighted such as geography and economics. I appreciate the observations about how including surrounding municipalities such as Westbrook and South Portland puts us over 100,000. That seems fair to me, given that Portland is basically the downtown section of those surrounding cities.

While mega projects like Maritime Landing add a lot of households in a dramatic fashion, a stable growth rate seems more sustainable and practical. An alternative to building "towers" to house people would be continuing building on the scale that has been followed historically in the downtown area like 5-6 story buildings. Part of what impresses me the most about most big cities, like New York, Boston, and Chicago, is the density of the non-skyscraper neighorboods. Portland's Parkside neighborhood is not our most picture perfect neighorhood, but the built environment here allows for a population density of roughly 13,000 people per square mile without any buildings over 5 stories.
 

Nexis4jersey

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I am hoping that was meant to be funny!

On the topic of population, wikipedia notes that Portland's highest population was for the 1950 census, with a population of 77,634. My understanding is that a lot of the WW2-era growth came from the jobs provided by the ship building industry (primarily in South Portland). Plus you can factor in that families each had more children back then. I do think we could reach that population number again in several decades, but it's hard to imagine it going much higher than that given the factors already sighted such as geography and economics. I appreciate the observations about how including surrounding municipalities such as Westbrook and South Portland puts us over 100,000. That seems fair to me, given that Portland is basically the downtown section of those surrounding cities.

While mega projects like Maritime Landing add a lot of households in a dramatic fashion, a stable growth rate seems more sustainable and practical. An alternative to building "towers" to house people would be continuing building on the scale that has been followed historically in the downtown area like 5-6 story buildings. Part of what impresses me the most about most big cities, like New York, Boston, and Chicago, is the density of the non-skyscraper neighorboods. Portland's Parkside neighborhood is not our most picture perfect neighorhood, but the built environment here allows for a population density of roughly 13,000 people per square mile without any buildings over 5 stories.
I wasn't being funny , I heard Mainers loved him...
 

Portlander

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Though actual city populations are important for various planning and allocation purposes, they do not have the same relevance in determining a core city's prominence and stature as the population count did prior to the sixties. More weight is placed on an urban center's metropolitan count nowadays for a more realistic snapshot of a city's overall clout.

Portland is positioned as the #100 largest MSA in the United States which is a better indicator of it's overall size then it's ranking being based on a 66,000 city population which would not even be picked up on radar. Portland is in the same grouping with some other regionally important cities that have modest city populations, relatively small city limits and have not chosen to consolidate with surrounding towns or taken over entire counties to boost numbers. A few of these cities are Harrisburg, PA, Greenville, SC, Lancaster, PA, Pensacola, FL, Charleston, WV and Poughkeepsie, NY.

My prediction for Portland's 2020 city population is 72,500 which is pretty close to Seanflynn's crystal ball!
 

Dr. StrangeHat

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What has he done to piss Mainers off?
He's not exactly the most eloquent speaker, nor does he have a fine touch when it comes to pushing his agenda. He's kind of a "bull in a china shop" that tends to say the wrong thing at the wrong time when he might mean differently. He's also more of a Tea Party Republican in a State that's more moderate or liberal-leaning than conservative.

It was a three-way race for Governor in 2010. He won with only 38% of the vote. The independent candiate got 37% of the vote, and the Democratic candidate got 19% of the vote. In other words, he didn't exactly have the full support of the State going into his term, and he hasn't done much to try to win over the 62% of the State that didn't vote for him. He's pretty much stuck to pandering to the 38% that voted for him.
 

Corey

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I think Dr. StrangeHat sums it up well. Tying this into the topic of population, the general country-wide trend that urban areas tend to vote democrat (or independent) and rural/suburban voters tend to vote overwhelmingly republican is true in Maine as well. The map below shows in red the counties won by LePage and the grey ones were won by the Cutler (the independent candidate). I think it would be a challenge to have a democratic or republican governor that could actually appeal to the entire state.

 

FrankLloydMike

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While the idea of no income tax is attractive, the flip side is that the State would need to replace that revenue somehow. It would likely lead to higher property taxes and higher sales taxes, which would have much more negative impact on businesses vs. the positive impact of no income tax. No income tax benefits individuals the most, with businesses seeing indirect benefits through increased spending. Higher property taxes, on the other hand, would impact those that usually have the most income to spend (property owners), thus offsetting for any gains seen from no income tax. An increased sales tax also cuts into the increase in spending from no income tax. But the higher property taxes would have the biggest impact on businesses through increased expenses to operate facilities. The bigger the business, the bigger the increased property tax expense (either directly for businesses that own their own property or indirectly through higher leases).

In other words, nothing really changes if we get rid of the income tax. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. You maybe attract more people to the state, but you will likely attract less business.

And the only way you have no income tax AND no increases in property and/or sales tax is to vastly cut expenses for the State. Since the biggest expenses for the State are education and transportation, then you risk creating a less educated work force (which would make it more difficult to attract new business to the State and create new business within the State) and a degrading infrastructure (which would make it more difficult to transport new products created in Maine outside of the State, also making it unattractive to businesses).

So, while the idea is nice, the more likely reality is that it wouldn’t have a net positive impact.

Besides, now that the Democrats have full control of the State Legislature, LePage won’t be able to get any of his initiatives passed in the next two years anyway.

Sorry to get all political for a moment, but I felt compelled to at least counter the idea of eliminating the income tax. Now back to your regularly scheduled discussion on development in Portland.
Repealing the income tax in Maine seems extremely unlikely to happen, and I think would be a very bad idea. I wrote about New Hampshire's tax "gimmicks" and the decline of the "New Hampshire Advantage" on LivableMHT a few months back, and frankly Maine's tax structure is more equitable, more sustainable and allows the state to better invest in its future.

If Maine were to repeal its income tax, it would not be to the detriment of New Hampshire but to Maine. New Hampshire can (but I would argue should not) get away with tax gimmicks because it is so close to Boston--it can attract residents to move just across the border to its southern suburbs, while retaining connections and even jobs back in Massachusetts. Maine might be able to do this a little bit, but not to the same degree. And as StrangeHat pointed out, it would result either in much higher taxes elsewhere (as in property, meals/rooms, business taxes, and myriad fees in New Hampshire) or drastic budget cuts.

If you want to look at what higher property and business taxes coupled with drastic budget cuts look like, just look across the Piscataqua. New Hampshire cannot retain young people (I'd argue its proximity to Boston works against it this regard), has the highest level of student debt, ranks last in higher education funding, and is still debating commuter rail despite widespread popular support. States need to invest in education and infrastructure if they want to be attractive places to live, work, study and visit, and Maine is doing a much better job of that than New Hampshire. Hopefully that will change now that the ideological and radical legislature of 2011-2012 has been sent packing.

But repealing the income tax would never make Portland a "boom town." If that was true, Manchester would be seeing more development than Portland. People don't move somewhere because their income taxes will be lower; they move somewhere because there are jobs, and increasingly because they are moving for a lifestyle. Similarly, businesses are more attracted by lower business taxes rather than lower income taxes on their workers. They know that if they are located in a desirable place, people will move to work there regardless of the taxes, so long as it is relatively affordable (or in the case of Boston, New York and San Francisco, even if it is not).

New Hampshire has been relying on a "no income tax" gimmick for far too long, and recent evidence shows that it is not working. Maine should never fall for the same trick.
 

Nexis4jersey

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I think the lack of decent Public Transit and Rail connections from New Hampshire's Large Cities and towns to Boston has hurt it. People these days along with companies will not move to a city that doesn't have some sort of Transit or Rail...service or isn't connected to a nearby hub city. Portland is , however its isolated by the fact there are no services connecting to other Maine Job hubs or even the capital , the service it does have is a joke....
 

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