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28.07.2015 admin
Officials hope for consensus and new revenue from a waterfront asset that lacks tenants after a string of failed proposals.
The Portland City Council is starting a community conversation about the future of the Maine State Pier and the Portland Ocean Terminal. Nearly a decade ago, the Maine State Pier was the center of a battle royal between two redevelopment proposals from well-known politicians and real estate developers that divided the city of Portland.
Despite months of debate, neither project – each estimated to cost $90 million – moved forward. Since then, the city has entertained smaller proposals to use portions of the Portland Ocean Terminal, the long, blue shed on the pier that is adorned with painted whales and was once a city transit shed. Now the City Council is kicking off a community conversation about the future of the pier and the terminal building, trying to generate revenue from an asset that has failed to move forward.
The 7-acre Maine State Pier includes the blue Portland Ocean Terminal building, seen from above at right.
Jennings said a planning effort would focus on long- and short-term uses that could generate revenue for the city. Mayor Ethan Strimling, who announced the planning initiative Monday as a common council goal during his State of the City address, said the area is too valuable to be sitting idle and that all options will be on the table.
The Portland Ocean Terminal building, with its whale mural painted by the artist Wyland nearly 23 years ago, has 90,000 square feet of ground-floor space and an additional 30,000 square feet on the second floor. City Councilor Nicholas Mavodones agrees with Strimling’s desire to be proactive about adopting a common vision for the building. The last time the city discussed redeveloping the state pier it drew intense public interest and divided the council. After the dust had settled, the council in late 2009 approved leasing 10,000 square feet on the pier and berthing space to Ready Seafood that was later increased to 24,000 square feet. Shucks had planned to open a processing facility and a commercial demonstration kitchen that would have targeted tourists interested in seeing lobster off-loaded at the docks, processed, and dishes prepared by an experienced chef. Portland Economic Development Director Greg Mitchell said the Shucks project didn’t go forward because of costs, not the lease changes. The next year, a marine-related business incubator called the New England Ocean Cluster announced that it was looking for a home on the Portland waterfront, but was unable to come to an agreement with the city to lease space at the pier. Patrick Arnold, majority owner in the New England Ocean Cluster, said the cluster is looking at two other sites on the Portland waterfront, but declined to name them. Councilor Brenerman said the committee will begin the process of considering new uses of the property, and ways to address existing traffic issues where Franklin Street terminates at Commercial Street. Brenerman expects the committee will have some sort of recommendation – whether for short-term or long-term goals – by the end of the year.
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The project became contentious and stalled because Ocean Properties was trying to get a sweetheart deal for a no-bid contract, with help from several members of city government, and others rightfully objected. The playing field was basically level, with the difference being that Ocean had the money and financing to get the job done, while Olympia didn’t, which was discovered after Olympia tanked.

I don’t agree at all with Suslovic on one or two key issues, but he was right to step in and stop the sweetheart, no-bid contract. If you want have a great example of why the cities vision is suspect look to the east at the expensive underutilized Ocean Gateway. I know this is a horrible thing to say but parking is lacking in the area during the warm months. Brennerman obviously didn’t get the study from the 2008 Franklin Reclamation Authority that said there will be NO new development in the Old Port or the Pier area for the next 20 years.
The area IS congested, and always WILL be, due to the tourists, hotels, and new apartment construction going in. The proposed changes for franklin arterial appear to have been conjured up by 5yr olds in a sand box. They clearly had title issues regarding the bottom of harbor not to mention a non-standard construction site with a whole raft of design and permitting issues.
Little late now… How many new hotels have been built in Portland the past 5 or 6 years?
Sounds like you are suggesting something less than a representative form of Gov’t Mr.
A place that is open, lively, changing, colorful and in the news with its events and offerings.
It IS NOT a place for offices and any retail should be eclectic,small, local and changing !
Advanced REO properties search by home address, REO # and MLS #, property type and status, price range and realtor name. This Single Family property situated in 43 Union St, Warren, Maine 04864 is currently for sale and has Under Contract status. Check out the video that speaks to quality and service that you get at Pleasant Run Structures. With room to let imaginations grow, a Rainbow Play System gives children swings, slides, and a very special place to call their own. For example, he would like to lease the vacant second-floor office space while the council conducts its planning. Promoter Waterfront Concerts put on 27 shows at the pier last year and is now working on this year’s lineup. The city also owns two large parking lots – a dirt lot on Thames Street and a paved waterfront lot just east of the Ocean Gateway terminal, which is used by cruise ships. The building has 90,000 square feet of ground-floor space and an additional 30,000 square feet on a second floor.
The goal is to get community support and avoid another divisive debate like the one in 2007. Both proposals included a hotel, restaurants and public access, and both teams were seeking long-term leases for the pier and tax breaks to make their $90 million plans come to fruition. However, negotiations quickly broke down, in part because of concerns about who owned the submerged lands beneath the pier, which factored into financing.

The pier hosted 27 shows last year and the promoter is now working on this year’s lineup, along with looking into covering the pier to reduce noise.
In 2013, councilors approved a lease with Shucks Maine Lobster for 18,800 square feet of space. But Shucks CEO John Hathaway said the company pulled out of the project because the city changed the Shucks lease to provide more space for a tugboat operator.
He said the final decision depends on whether his group of investors, along with the University of Southern Maine and the University of New England, are successful in winning a $7 million state bond. That area is congested with people accessing the Casco Bay Lines ferry and Ocean Gateway Terminal cruise ships, and there is a lack of parking.
Today ‘s pro-active approach should fare much better, so long as the vision results in a competitive bidding process.
Things stalled when the city started waffling on requirements, with extra sand in the gears from Suslovic. If you put something there you need to have the ability for people to get there and park there. That means that the FRA could proceed with its plans to make Franklin just 2 lanes wide between Congress and Commercial. They were killed by the City of Portland’s middle school mentality boards, little power hungry fiefdoms. In this case, the delays got them into the midst of a liquidity crisis so there was no plan B or plan C available.
Mid-Town is one example of how a scrutinized and controversial project can get bogged down. But the last occupancy stats I recollect for hotels on the Peninsula suggest growing demand. View all required contact information like name, phone and email, realty firm name and address.
Several other developments either have been approved or are under consideration nearby, such as an upscale hotel at 158 Fore St., an office building at 16 Middle St. The promoter is working with city staff on a preliminary plan to possibly cover the pier to reduce noise.
Shortly thereafter, the council began negotiating with Ocean Properties, but those talks ultimately dissolved over concerns about the costs of rehabilitating the pier amid other projects the company already had underway. The New Hampshire-based company was led by Bangor native Tom Walsh, Robert Baldacci – the brother of former Gov.
The project also included marine berthing, a museum and a network of shops, restaurants and artist studios.

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