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PWMFlyer

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Article in the Forecaster...

PORTLAND — With a $30 million donation in hand from the Harold Alfond Foundation, officials at the University of New England are beginning to consolidate its graduate health programs onto one campus.


Director of Campus Planning Eric Mora said moving its College of Osteopathic Medicine – the only medical school in Maine – from Biddeford into a new 110,000-square-foot building to be constructed behind Innovation Hall in the former Maine Army National Guard Armory is a top priority in its five year plan. The plan also includes a new facilities building and athletics building off Bishop Street, the conversion of the Finley gymnasium into an academic building and a former church at 812 Stevens Avenue into office space, constructing a new academic building by the art gallery and a potential residence hall on Gulliver’s Field.


The University of New England is working on a plan that would add more academic buildings and other facilities to its campus between Morrill’s Corner and Deering Center in Portland. Courtesy / University of New England.
Alan Thibeault, vice president for university operation, said moving the medical school to the Portland campus – already home to UNE’s College of Dental Medicine, the College of Pharmacy and the Westbrook College of Health Professions – has been a long time coming for the university.

“Health care is multifaceted and traditionally everyone has learned in their own silo and there hasn’t been learning together or even what the other programs be able to bring to the others,” Thibeault said. “We realize that and have been working on a plan where all of our health programs can work together.”

Residents from the Deering Center neighborhood hope to be a part of the discussion as the move of the medical school and development of other parts of the campus happen.

“We have heard both optimism and some concerns regarding UNE’s medical program moving to the Stevens Avenue Portland campus,” said John Thibodeau, president of the Deering Center Neighborhood Association. “With UNE as a neighbor, our hope is to work and collaborate with UNE on this project, which presumably will impact the neighborhood.”


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The neighborhood association is scheduled to hold a neighborhood meeting about the UNE plans sometime this month.

“The idea of being proactive and getting information out there is important, but that is only half the story,” said Denis Lachman, a member of the neighborhood association board. “The other half of the story is us rolling up our sleeves (and working with UNE officials), not just reacting to information they present to us.”

Mora said there will be plenty of opportunities for collaboration with the neighborhood, as the proposed building still needs to be designed and go through the Planning Board.

The biggest hurdle, Mora said, is fundraising the remaining $40 million necessary for the $70 project that also includes the establishment of the Institute for Interprofessional Education and Practice in Portland and expansion of graduate and undergraduate offerings in aquaculture, entrepreneurship, criminal justice and sports media communication in Biddeford.

“We have a long way to go and the funding is the biggest thing we are facing,” Mora said.

The university wants to start the Planning Board review process by the middle of next year, break ground in 2022 and have the new facility open for the 2023-2024 school year. It is expected to bring 400 additional students to the Portland campus.

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Councilor Justin Costa, whose district represents the Deering Center neighborhood, said he has not heard any specific concerns raised by the project, but “if history is an indicator, there is going to be an intense discussion about the parking and traffic issues that this brings to Stevens Avenue.”

“We are not there yet, but I expect that to happen once plans get more developed,” he said.

Mora said a traffic demand study that looks at traffic patterns now and what it could look like when the new medical school is built will be part of the Planning Board review process.

“We know traffic and parking is going to be an issue,” he said.

Thibeault said a plan to improve an internal connector road that runs from the heart of campus and a large parking lot off Bishop Street may reduce the number of students traveling through Morrill’s Corner or using Stevens Avenue for parking.
 

DanielPWM19

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Additional news on the Med School consolidation and building for UNE:

 

markhb

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From the submittal. some context for the pretty picture in the article:
1659555747569.png

The bigger piece at the right that it would connect to is the former Armory.
 

TC_zoid

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From the submittal. some context for the pretty picture in the article:
View attachment 26940
The bigger piece at the right that it would connect to is the former Armory.
There's an article in the PPH today about this. It will be $93 million to build and will unify the entire divisions of healthcare education at UNE. The university is now slowly enclosing a house of an owner who will not sell (assuming). On Google 3D Maps you can see it, somewhat hidden by trees, and behind the 4-story former dormitory (I spent a night in that dorm years ago, and it was for girls only back then, but she snuck me in despite--lol). The house has junk in the yard, along with a camper. Too bad, as the school needs a substantial dormitory (hi-rise) and is surrounded on two sides by the cemetery. I doubt they will build it on the athletic field, or maybe they will, and certainly not next to this guy's house. There is no real incentive to sell land in Portland due to its stratospheric rise in value. Same thing with the Federated guy holding on to those Bayside lots. Why sell? Where else would you put your money? What would YOU offer him to vacate?
 

Cosakita18

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There's an article in the PPH today about this. It will be $93 million to build and will unify the entire divisions of healthcare education at UNE. The university is now slowly enclosing a house of an owner who will not sell (assuming). On Google 3D Maps you can see it, somewhat hidden by trees, and behind the 4-story former dormitory (I spent a night in that dorm years ago, and it was for girls only back then, but she snuck me in despite--lol). The house has junk in the yard, along with a camper. Too bad, as the school needs a substantial dormitory (hi-rise) and is surrounded on two sides by the cemetery. I doubt they will build it on the athletic field, or maybe they will, and certainly not next to this guy's house. There is no real incentive to sell land in Portland due to its stratospheric rise in value. Same thing with the Federated guy holding on to those Bayside lots. Why sell? Where else would you put your money? What would YOU offer him to vacate?
There's quite a story behind that....

The owner of that property HATES the university....He's an ardent conspiracy theorist (From what I understand...he's a frequent caller to the radio show "coast to coast AM") and is convinced that the school and the city are intentionally trying to push him out and make his life miserable. He's done battle with UNE and the city for years as the university has expanded and developed its master plan. He's fairly old... but won't sell to UNE under any circumstance and is passing the house onto a distant relative.
 
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DanielPWM19

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Does UNE own or lease the land on Bishop Street they use for parking? There's a ton of garbage industrial buildings that could be replaced on Bishop Street itself.

Is the old Aubuchon Hardware building on Stevens is still vacant? Or is it the Rosemont Bakery?

Maybe buy up around the Forest Ave corner? Any reason the Armory Building is being kept? What about all the industrial rail land behind Bruno's? At one point there was talk about building a grocery store there that never manifested.
 

markhb

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The Aubuchon Hardware is, indeed, a kitchen or commissary for Rosemont (I'm not sure if it serves the public directly or not). UNE has made a large investment in the Armory building to convert it to "Innovation Hall" and I doubt they plan to remove it.

I'm not sure who owns the land behind Bruno's at this point. As for the industrial buildings on Bishop, AFAIK those are all still in use, and it's some of the rare rail-served industrial property in Portland.

I haven't seen any sign that UNE is actively looking at developing dorms in Portland, though. The campus is almost, if not completely, grad schools at this point and I wonder to what extent grad students want any sort of "dorm life".
 

markhb

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If you look at their Master Plan, there is a long-term proposal to build student housing and an athletic field in back half of the campus.
Obviously, I stand corrected. Thanks for that map! (Incidentally, to save others from looking them up, 1075 Forest, building A3 in the inset, is the former Northern Utilities / Unitil building. S3, the isolated 812 Forest Ave., is the boarded-up former Barry Pharmacy building. And it does seem that the residential area will be where that practice athletic field currently is.

I believe they do have a limited vehicle access route from the back parking lot into the Bishop St. lot, but it's limited to pedestrians and their shuttle bus.
 

DanielPWM19

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If you look at their Master Plan, there is a long-term proposal to build student housing and an athletic field in back half of the campus. Additionally, they plan to build an access road to the campus from Bishop St.

View attachment 29130
Awesome, so they do own the land on Bishop and can easily push athletic fields out that way while expanding more on the actual campus. I'm sure in time, other parcels will be acquired. Would have been crazy if they bought the old Sisters of Mercy Convent & land. As for the old curmudgeon, even if he offloads to a distant relative - that person may just want the money and bail.
 

TC_zoid

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The medical school broke ground a few weeks ago. Anyone have a quick pic? And are there any plans for housing? UNE has Maine's only pharmacy, dental, and medical schools and I can't see how they will house all these students off campus. Where?
 
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markhb

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And are there any plans for housing? UNE has Maine's only pharmacy, dental, and medical schools and I can't see how they will house all these students off campus. Where?
As it stands right now, the UNE website flat out says,
As a student on UNE's Portland Campus, you will be a commuter student. The Graduate and Professional Student Affairs Office is here to help connect you with resources for locating an apartment and/or finding a roommate.
 

TC_zoid

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They could do a deal with a developer (who would finance it) to build a large Passivehaus dorm in the way that USM did with its. I'm guessing most of the students have to commute to school by car, van, or bus, and so what about the mandate to reduce the school's carbon footprint? I guess it's not a priority. And I wouldn't be surprised if the crazy guy holdout with the house in the middle of the campus, who is a de facto squatter, has some say in it.
 

Dr. StrangeHat

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They have plenty of space to build a dormitory on their property at the end of Bishop Street (the old Pike quarry and asphalt plant location).

(I once thought that was a good spot for the soccer stadium, especially if they could somehow use the connecting rail lines to shuttle people to the stadium from downtown and the suburbs.)
 

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