The Casco | 201 Federal Street | Portland


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Apr 14, 2010
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Thought this potential development was worthy of it's own thread. If completed as rumored, it will become Maine's tallest building eclipsing Franklin Towers (1969) by approximately 15 feet. I wish Redfern Properties the very best throughout the upcoming process which will probably include dealing with the vocal minority who may oppose such a lofty structure in the center of the city. Good news is that the project is residential and the only views the new tower will block is the nearly vacant 6 story Masonic Building. Manchester, NH has two 20 story towers downtown and the locals haven't torched or vacated the city after all of these years. When the Fidelity Building was completed in 1910 at 146' it was the second tallest building in all of New England (Ames Building, Boston) and Portland survived and even went taller years later with the Chapman Building (1924) and the Eastland Hotel (1927).
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Actual quote* from the clowns at Keep Portland Livable: "Tall buildings eat people."

*may not be an actual quote, but I'm sure they believe the sentiment 🤣

In all seriousness, I too wish Redfern the best of luck. If there is a local developer that can pull this off and do so with an iconic building, I think it is them. This is a great location to build up.
This is the perfect parcel to build up. Probably one of the best parcels for 15+ stories in the city aside from the Top of the Old Port lot.

It's likely that the nearby 385 Congress development will have 8-10 story buildings as well, so the section of downtown between Temple St. And Franklin could look very different in a few years!
What I do like about the previous renderings we saw earlier is that it does not look like a residential building. There were no balconies with lawn chairs, beach towels, planters and other tacky items that would become more of an eyesore in the heart of downtown. Also liked the glass treatment and ski slope effect on the top two floors which gave it a more contemporary look with the brick facade. Am guessing all mechanical equipment will be tucked behind the structure to allow the extra 40' to be used for actual floor space. Guess we'll know more next week when Redfern said they'd release some updated drawings and plans.
Strategically the location make sense too because from an appeal perspective the scope of people who can actually oppose this (in court) would be limited to the USPO (or whoever owns the building it occupies, assuming it's not part of their REO portfolio) and the City (owner of the garage across the street), plus one or two establishments on Exchange. I might be missing some entities but it seems a few of the direct abutter parcels are comprised of parties that are unlikely to oppose this.
My sense is that there is widespread public acknowledgment that the city is in desperate need of market-rate housing, and so I suspect any proposal for market-rate (or affordable) housing will receive broad public support and limited opposition. The current environment is very different from ten years ago when the Midtown proposal was essentially derailed by a couple activists whose personal perception of the city's character didn't comport with taller buildings. I have to believe if anyone opposed market rate housing with the same tactics today they'd be shamed right out of town.
If anyone can make a project like this happen, it's Redfern. A local team with a great portfolio and a proven track record. I'm very optimistic.
We are still working on the design (always open to constructive feedback), but attached are some preliminary renderings. The PPH will likely post a story soon.


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It's thrilling that Portland might be gearing up for a new tallest, but that design is straight out of 1990. Maybe "playing it safe" is the only way to get something taller done in Portland. I don't know, but if this was a project in Boston/Cambridge/Somerville, it would be "meh'd" into oblivion. Compared to this, the North Point blobs, Assembly Square blobs, and tons of new dorms sprouting up around the Fenway/Longwood areas are bold, groundbreaking marvels. (which rightfully also get "meh'd" into oblivion)

But hey, I'm not from Portland, nor do I live up there! I'm sorry to be the turd in your punchbowl, and appreciate the released renders! Let the Portland forumers with their rock-bottom expectations give their thoughts.
Thanks for posting, Redfern!

First and foremost, everyone is a critic. Second, I like the base (what appears to be the first two stories) and, if this design moves forward, hope that will be a natural stone as it would look very sharp. The upper portion definitely fits in with the Portland skyline though I was hoping for something more contemporary like the newer building at Elizabeth and Canal in Providence pictured below.

Thanks again for sharing, this is a really exciting project, and I'm curious to see how it evolves.

Thanks for giving us a sneak preview of 200 Federal Street. Personally I like the design and materials and feel that it blends in well with the surrounding buildings. If you took a mix of One City Center, Portland Square, and Canal Plaza and shook it all up this is what the outcome would look like which fits that area of downtown perfectly. A definite improvement over the previous renderings from last year and I also appreciate the effort made by the architect to disguise the residential use of the building, balconies wouldn't work well in that location. The three story base of the structure is outstanding and gives off an appearance of class and substance which is a positive for potential tenants. My only minor point of criticism would be the treatment given to the mechanical wall on the roof. Utilizing the same brick from floors 4-15 or even some type of contemporary black paneling would visually break up the run of "tan" from the top three floors. Good luck moving forward!
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We are still working on the design (always open to constructive feedback), but attached are some preliminary renderings. The PPH will likely post a story soon.

I actually really like this design (by contrast, I think the design from Providence is barf worthy, but no offense intended ... to each their own). Not in the sense that I would say I really like 250 Seaport Blvd. in Boston or some other major city contemporary structure, but for Portland this has a rock solid appeal. It's difficult to strike the right balance between the historic Exchange Street district and the slightly more contemporary Monument Square, but I think this does a good job. In addition, it could never be too "game changing" with the Congress Street historic district and City Hall very close by. In fact, this might even be in the CSHD ... not sure. In any case I would guess staff and therefore the Planning Board would have concerns initially with the envelope focused around two things: the width of the structure when viewed from the south-ish, and the ground levels / base. Here you can see some greater articulation in the facade by the alternation of colors used, which the City is likely to appreciate, and you can also see that the base fits in with the historic character and scale of this part of town. That's important because, from a pedestrian perspective, that's the most important part of the building and streetscape. I applaud the effort to construct this, as it's not cheap to go high-rise, and construction financing is becoming more difficult to secure in some markets, but over the long term I think this will be a trophy / iconic asset on the Portland skyline. Plus, considering where it's located, I doubt there will be any issue selling or renting the units. Good luck!
We are still working on the design (always open to constructive feedback), but attached are some preliminary renderings. The PPH will likely post a story soon.

Wow, that really does fit into Portland. I do think the top three floors are anti-climatic, as though it's apologizing for the height. I would make those three floors with bigger windows, with darker frames, to give the crown some scintillating "icing." The views will be fantastic, so why not bigger windows? Pricier units, of course, but worth it if you like to entertain. I'd rent one (and I just might!). It will be Portland's marquee building, so show off a bit.
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Thank you to Redfern for sharing these images. This will be the most exciting development in Portland in quite some time. To my untrained eye the design appears a bit underwhelming, a bit ho-hum. My personal preference would be for something a bit more modern-looking, perhaps with more glass. That said I look forward to seeing this project evolve and watching it go up!
Decent article concerning 200 Federal Street in the Portland Press Herald today. Well researched with an emphasis on the building's height compared to other Portland high rises and the dire need for more apartments in the city. Only negative responses from readers so far were issues related to parking, no surprise there. There were also some comments from Tim Soley in the article concerning his potential tower at Canal Plaza and it appears he is still planning on moving forward with a revised proposal due to the current climate caused by the pandemic, no heights were mentioned.
We are still working on the design (always open to constructive feedback), but attached are some preliminary renderings. The PPH will likely post a story soon.
Not bad but maybe a little too safe in its design. Needs more detailing. As far as colors, I like it. Thank you for not going down the gray route. It's so passe.
I do think Redfern's initial renderings are kind of brilliant, or politically speaking, that is. One rendering of the building looks to be the same height as One City Center, and the top part, as I wrote earlier, seems to disappear into the sky. Perhaps the idea is to not set the NIMBY groups off at this initial stage, the way that the four Bayside Towers illustrations did a few years ago. Many are too lazy to think and imagine what the actual truth is. Also, in the article, it's interesting to see demand for housing is coming from outside Portland, especially NYC. NYC is not a fun place to be now. The opposite. Hoboken is an option, a city similar in feel to Portland, but if one is working remotely, why not Portland? The average temperature difference between NYC and Portland is 9 degrees. But in the summer it's not an issue (or better in Portland being 9 degrees cooler). Build them and they will come, is my motto.
Of course some of the comments out of the gate from the PPH is parking. The garages are full they say...well no one mentioned the garages at night? all are empty at night. People who are coming from away are used to Public Trans, walking, biking, uber, taxi...they want no cars and can live with out them., Us Maine people are car eccentric and will never give up a car even when I have to go to the store. Its stuck in our head. I would offer an incentive, no car = less rent. I do like the lower level, I would like to see a nice grocery market to fill up the space. I look forward to the planning process...
Great points PWM, but all of those tenant vehicles would have to be out of the surrounding garages around 7 AM to accommodate the reserved spots for daily workers. If this project moves forward it would be at least two years until completion and I'm sure Redfern has thought the parking issues out. Maybe they can reserve spots in the potential 1000 space garage at the Portland Square development that would be coming on line around the same time or maybe a block of parking at the Top of the Old Port lot?
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