Time & Temp Building | Parking Garage Redevelopment | Portland

Max

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Earlier this summer I was browsing hotels on the peninsula for a friend looking to visit for a weekend in August or September, and I was stunned by the prices. The Blind Tiger (former Danforth Inn) was charging upwards of $700/night some weekends. Same for the Press Hotel. There wasn't a room available anywhere for less than $500 most nights that I looked at.

It does make me wonder how sustainable this kind of demand is... is this summer a quasi-post-Covid anomaly? Will these hotels be dead all winter (and will it matter)? Is the city experiencing a moment of popularity that is going to fade in a year or two, or is it here to stay? In the meantime, while the demand seems insatiable, hotel development seems like a sure thing.

I do feel like this is a great location for lodging -- right smack in the middle of the city. There are great views from the upper floors. A restaurant/lounge on the top floor would be very popular. I think the developers would be wise to restore the lower level arcade and incorporate as many amenities as possible that would appeal to both hotel guests and the general public (salons, cafes, etc.).

It's not clear to me if or how the redevelopment of 477-481 Congress is still connected to redevelopment of the parking garage and proposed housing on Brown Street. You'd think that the hotel would be tied to a prospective parking garage, but I haven't seen any mention of parking in the hotel materials.
 

Portlander

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Maybe the developers have secured temporary parking in the new Arts District Garage on Brown Street which is in an area that I really don't consider artsy!
 
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Cosakita18

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It does make me wonder how sustainable this kind of demand is... is this summer a quasi-post-Covid anomaly? Will these hotels be dead all winter (and will it matter)? Is the city experiencing a moment of popularity that is going to fade in a year or two, or is it here to stay? In the meantime, while the demand seems insatiable, hotel development seems like a sure thing.
I'm probably in the minority in thinking that the number of hotel rooms in the city is approaching an unsustainable point. I would say that the Spring / Summer of 2020 is a good reminder of why we should be weary about an economy that's overly dependent on tourism. Leisure travel is the first thing to get hit whenever the economy slows, and I have a suspicion that some of these new hotels wouldn't survive a prolonged economic downturn. I also worry about a time when Portland becomes "not hot" I don't want our city to slide back into its pre-2000 obscurity...but eventually all the food blogs and travel magazines and trendsetters will turn their attention to the next "up and coming" small city...and an overburden of tourism can damage or destroy the things that make it a unique city to visit in the first place.

I don't mean to sound too pessimistic, but there will inevitably be another recession, and these are things worth bearing in mind.
 
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markhb

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Will these hotels be dead all winter (and will it matter)?
Yes to the first. Anyone in the hospitality business in Portland will tell you, we'll never have enough rooms in July and we'll always have too many rooms in January.
 

PWMFlyer

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There are still many hotels in the pipeline. Hotels also have a contingency plan to convert floors from rooms to condos if tide starts turning which would allow owners the same privilege's as guests. A cost savings allowing less rooms but getting condo owner fees in lieu of rooms being used. If rock row builds their convention center or Portland, there will always be a need for rooms....Portland is a destination...
 

Portlander

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I'm not too concerned about the hotel sustainability issue because I think the Portland will remain viable as a travel destination regardless of the economy. Tourism, transportation, entertainment, insurance, banking, education, and tech have become our new mainstays which keeps us fairly balanced. While manufacturing, light industry, fishing and crude oil have either dwindled or become former relics of the greater Portland landscape. Any future long term decline in tourism would provide an excellent opportunity to convert some of these structures into apartments, condos or even student housing so not all would be lost.
 
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TC_zoid

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Portland's future is looking even brighter. The two hour train tether to Boston is one key reason. The past two months I've been traveling for business in the mid-west to cities like St. Louis, Omaha, Columbus, and Minneapolis. These places have largely deserted and depressing downtown districts. Portland, or for half the year, anyway, is far more exciting and energetic a place to be. No comparison. A few weeks ago 9 super yachts were docked in the harbor (marinetraffic.com). The only other place in the nation that has this kind of yacht concentration is Miami and The Hamptons. I walked around Peaks Island with friends in April, and was astonished by all the new modern houses that have been built in tucked in areas. All from out-of-state wealth. The existing Maine housing stock is pathetic, so they are tearing down and replacing. I talked with a guy from California who did this with a run-down house on the beach (off of East Grand Ave. in OOB). He built a fabulous replacement home in only 3 months! He was in his 50s, with a new Tesla in the driveway with CA plates. He says a lot of wealthier people in CA are leaving. Camden is another hot spot. Lots of out-of-state wealth.
 

Max

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This was on the PB agenda the other night, and the entire hour-plus conversation was around the location of valet services.

In a nutshell, the developers insist that the arrival valet has to be on Congress Street, both to meet historic standards required by the National Park Service, and for logistical reasons (everyone's GPS will bring them to 477 Congress). And also because they believe that Congress is the only arrival experience appropriate for a 5-star hotel. They want to cut back some of the sidewalk to facilitate the valet setup, I think just bringing the curb in line with all the currently metered spots in front of the former TD Bank branch and Longfellow House, which they're also seeking to turn into 15-minute parking.

The city is pushing to have all valet services on Preble. They're concerned about the valet impeding emergency vehicles on Congress. The developers said it would be more dangerous to not have valet services on Congress because people are going to pull up there and double-park anyway. I think they're probably right about that, but I also agree that it's a busy intersection on a narrow street and if the valet is not run efficiently there's risk of some real problems there.
 

Portlander

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So in your opinion Max, will this project move forward in the near future if the valet parking is it's only issue? Will be an exciting year and a half to watch Portland's most iconic tower getting renovated while it's future tallest tower will be under construction just a few blocks away!
 
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Max

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It's hard to imagine that the project would get scuttled over the location of the arrival valet, but the developer representatives at the meeting seemed adamant that they need it to be on Congress. If in fact the arrival location is a sticking point with the NPS, which is overseeing the historic preservation tax credits, my guess is that the city will concede to cutting back the sidewalk and creating a pull-in valet lane.
 

nomc

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If in fact the arrival location is a sticking point with the NPS, which is overseeing the historic preservation tax credits
Is the potential sticking point with NPS because the developers would want to cut a new entrance to the building on Preble if the valet was located there?
 

Dr. StrangeHat

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Even if they cut the sidewalk in front, you're still left with a significant amount of public ROW there. I could see having both a front valet, plus a side valet. That would distribute the load more evenly during busy check-in times.

1630088453579.png
 

Cosakita18

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During this workshop was there any mention by the developers on the status of the garage / residential portion of the project?
 

Portlander

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IMG_2086.jpg

Looks like the developer is getting a head start on the mechanical level.
 

Max

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During this workshop was there any mention by the developers on the status of the garage / residential portion of the project?
The garage was mentioned as the place where valeted cars will be parked, but there was no update on the status of the redevelopment that I heard. A planning board member asked if there will be an entrance to the hotel from the garage or an option for self-parking, and I think they said there will be entrance but it'll be a long walk to the check-in desk from the garage and they're either planning to require or urge people to use the valet.
 

Portlander

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IMG_2313.jpg


A couple of shots I took back in August of 1986 from various levels of the roof of the Time & Temperature Building. Notice construction on One Portland Square underway, the BIW dry dock is still operational and Casco and Norstar Bank are no longer with us. My apologies for the photo quality, it was 35 years ago and there is only one Corey! In this view I'm actually on top of the mechanical roof and below the flashing signage.
 
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Portlander

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IMG_2314.jpg


On the roof at the top of the 14th floor, would never get this close to the edge today! Benoits was such a great store and the pedestrian walkway (former portion of Middle) to Temple Street was just finishing up.
 
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markhb

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Norstar, of Albany, had bought out the old Northeast Bank (whose HQ I believe was in Westbrook, where the Main St. Bank of America still is today) and they were the original headline tenant of One City Center. They were in turn bought out by Fleet Bank of Providence, which eventually was swallowed by BofA. Casco was eaten by Key Bank.

It's worth noting that Two City Center didn't exist at this time either; that last lot at the foot of former Middle St. was a grassy lawn. I don't recall if Lower Hay (the second location of H.H. Hay Drug Store) or James Bailey's Sporting Goods, both mainstays of what became the even-numbered stretch of City Center, were still in business in this timeframe.
 

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