Rock Row (née The Ridge, née Dirigo Plaza) | Westbrook, ME

mainejeff

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The rendering below is what the Bangor Concert facility is supposed to eventually be within a year or two.
Oh I know what it is supposed to look like. There are actually much prettier pictures than that. From the outside it looks like a landfill. And it is in a terrible location.....but whatever Bangor.
 

markhb

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A couple shots taken while at the BBQ Showdown last Saturday...
Possibly a last look at the concert pavilion.
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Chick-Fil-A getting close...
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markhb

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I wonder if they are having a hard time hiring? It's crazy out there right now.
I think that's the same holdup at Binga's on Forest Ave. I've been told the interior is complete but they're trying to hire line cooks.
 

Cosakita18

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Convention Center plans have been released:

Preliminary plans show a 110,000 sq. ft event floor, as well as outdoor event space, with attached hotel and retail.

Construction could begin in 2023.


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DanielPWM19

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YESSSSSSSSS!! Build it Build it Build it!!!!!

Funny how the article states that the time for a convention center downtown in Portland has basically passed, is no longer feasible, and would be easier to lay the infrastructure here.

Also the comments at the end of the article about capitalists, the shrinking need for such space, and so on is amusing. Portland and the surrounding area will greatly benefit from having a space like this and should have built one over a decade ago (top of the old port failures).
 
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TC_zoid

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If they added a cool casino, I would say yes, let's go! I'm not confident that they will get the formula right, but if they do, it could be a hot destination (for an end-all destination). Downtown Portland has more to offer with hotels and restaurants, so this proposal needs that too (comparatively). Also, this is crucial, stunning VIP areas for attendees, and stunning Green Room and talent suites. Top talent will not return if the experience sucks for them and their comps (I work in this industry and know first-hand). A $115 million bond. Wow. I'll bet those behind this proposal will get a nice chunk, so that if it does fail, or not sizzle, they will move on to the next project, somewhere far away, perhaps. Or, perhaps it only becomes another catchy set of illustrations for Portland's "proposed but never built" archives. (What city is that behind? Mountains close by? Maybe this developer goes from town to town and state to state with these illustrations?)
 

markhb

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Funny how the article states that the time for a convention center downtown in Portland has basically passed, is no longer feasible, and would be easier to lay the infrastructure here.
In fairness, that's a statement from the developer, so it's certainly not an unbiased assessment.
 

TC_zoid

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Times change. The only city that can truly support a big and dynamic convention center in the northeast, or that I've seen, is Boston. Bookings are brisk. The Javits Center in NYC is a snore. BCEC is thriving, and a new 1,000 room hotel (Omni) just opened across the street. But that's Boston, one of the most dynamic business tech centers in the world. Who wants to book or attend a convention in Portland outside of the summer and perhaps month of October?
 

Max

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If the developers are counting on a bond or other legislation to help realize this proposal, they may be in for disappointment. Bonds and local tax options that would (or appear to) primarily benefit one municipality or small area have historically not seen broad support in the legislature.

That said, I just cannot get excited about Rock Row. I've been to a few of these work/live/play type developments in other states and they're just not interesting to me. They're basically trying to manufacture a new neighborhood, but it doesn't have any authenticity. It has all the appeal of an outdoor mall. The tenants are big chains -- who cares? I was just reading that Westbrook PD are concerned about people losing their minds over the opening of Chik-Fil-A, and I just don't get it. There are so many good, local restaurants in the area, why would anyone get excited about a fast-food chain restaurant that sources from the same grotesque industrial food chain that supplies every fast-food restaurant in the world?
 

Corey

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The renderings look pretty cool. I'm surprised/not surprised the article talks a lot about the need for parking garages and doesn't mention need for a location with good public transportation access. Seems it would make sense to connect this sort of venue directly to downtown/jetport/Thompson's Point but maybe those plans are progressing separately.

Also, interesting choice to place this rendering in a random city other than Westbrook 🤓

View attachment 18274
 

Portlander

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I think the concept is impressive and have always been supportive of a convention center in Greater Portland, just not in this location. I agree with Max, it lacks authenticity and convention attendees prefer an urban setting with quality restaurants, museums, lodging, entertainment and local shopping options all within walking distance. I agree that a downtown location would be difficult due to the lack of available land for a project of this size unless someone figures out a way to utilize the Midtown parcels which have been sitting idle for decades. The Top of the Old Port parking lots would still be the number one preferred location on my short list. In addition, the views of the Sappi mill, Kohls, car dealerships and the Maine Turnpike would not inspire many visitors to want stay in a 13 story hotel in the suburbs.
 
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Seanflynn78

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I was hoping for an actual new arena that seats 11k with all modern amenities that would draw interest from the NCAA for hockey and basketball tournaments (Go Black Bears). I keep forgetting they renovated the CCC this past 10 years. I think the seating capacity of the CCC or Cross Insurance Arena went down with the last renovation.

I agree that Rock Row does not feel organic, much more of the opposite look. West Hartford's Blue Back Square and UConn's "downtown" have the same fake feel. They are building a similar development in Bedford, NH called "Market and Main", but the NIMBY's have downsized it by quite a bit. Well isn't Chick-Fil-A the champagne of fast food? Oh never mind I think that's Shake Shack :)
 

DanielPWM19

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I think the concept is impressive and have always been supportive of a convention center in Greater Portland, just not in this location. I agree with Max, it lacks authenticity and convention attendees prefer an urban setting with quality restaurants, museums, lodging, entertainment and local shopping options all within walking distance. I agree that a downtown location would be difficult due to the lack of available land for a project of this size unless someone figures out a way to utilize the Midtown parcels which have been sitting idle for decades. The Top of the Old Port parking lots would still be the number one preferred location on my short list. In addition, the views of the Sappi mill, Kohls, car dealerships and the Maine Turnpike would not inspire many visitors to want stay in a 13 story hotel in the suburbs.
I hear this. Top of the Old Port would be exciting. Then Midtown could get built. Portland has the restaurants and downtown vibe. If we could ever get a RAIL LINE into downtown that would be great. Sadly Portland thought it was a brilliant idea to rip those two down instead.
 

Tom Nevers

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This would sit better with me if they weren’t relying on a bond issue. Because they are, it’s hard not consider that outside of a few major US cities, this industry has declined for 20+ years. Numerous Brookings Institute reports reached this conclusion as did a recent review by City Observatory which noted,

“Convention Centers are a stagnant and dying industry that require endless taxes”

The only thing more frustrating than seeing public dollars potentially being used on this is that the answer to making Rock Row successful is simple and straightforward but not being acted on in a timely manner. Build housing! Build lots of housing!

Also, Max, have you visited The Gateway in Salt Lake City? Full of what I believe are chains and it’s rife with issues associated with quasi-public space but the layout, gathering spaces, weird nooks, art, lighting, and architecture make it an interesting place to walk thru. I’m not packing my bags to buy a condo in the units there but it is well integrated with downtown SLC, has good transit access, and is an easy walk from many local restaurants and shops. Definitely worth visiting if you have a few nights in SLC.
 

Portlander

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Sean, the Cross Arena did lose around 200 seats during the renovations but gained a few back with the luxury boxes on the west end. Stage end concerts actually gained some capacity due to the new retractable stands on the east end which allows the stage to be moved further back which opened up extra seats on the sides. Capacity for concerts is around 8300, basketball 7000 and hockey is 6500. Back in the day prior to the elimination of general admission seating for safety requirements (Cincinnati tragedy) they used to squeeze in 10,000 which I was in attendance for a few of them!
 

Cosakita18

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I’ve always been dubious of convention centers as “Economic development” And I don’t like the idea of such a large amount of public funding being involved. These venues rarely fully live up to their expectations. Just like shopping malls, There’s a big difference between massive “premium” event venues In Las Vegas or New York or Boston and smaller convention facilities like this, And I think that we should be very aware of that difference when it comes to the amount of public funding involved. I would also absolutely say the Portland could never support multiple convention centers And having a venue downtown wouldn’t necessarily be advantageous over a venue at Rock Row

A lot of big regional companies like Wex, Idexx and Covetrus claim to urgently need conference and event space, but all three of those companies have expanded their headquarters in the past three years and none of those expansions have included conference space. So clearly it’s not something that they need that urgently….And if they need it then they should build it themselves without public subsidy.

I also really don’t understand the insistence on having an outdoor concert venue. Even a partially enclosed venue like this one appears to be is still going to generate quite a bit of noise during concerts. Not exactly compatible with residential and medical facilities immediately nextdoor.
 
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Portcity75

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Market basket has to be losing thousands of dollars in sales and will continue to for another week or so with chick-fil-a opening . They gotta be pissed
 

nomc

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I also really don’t understand the insistence on having an outdoor concert venue. Even a partially enclosed venue like this one appears to be is still going to generate quite a bit of noise during concerts. Not exactly compatible with residential and medical facilities immediately nextdoor.
Everyone here is talking about this as a convention-type space, but it's clearly built around the concert venue. They even cite the Toyota Music Factory as what the design is based on. This makes me have concerns about the general layout and functionality of the rest of the space for anything other than concerts.
 

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