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Patrick
05-31-2006, 11:36 AM
Bayside is an eyesore in the middle of the portland peninsula and in recent years has been the focus of rejuvination efforts by the city.

City makes new push for scrap yard deal


Portland officials have resumed talks with the owner of a scrap yard that threatens to interfere with the city's revitalization plans for the Bayside neighborhood.

Alan Lerman, owner of E. Perry Iron & Metal Co. on Lancaster Street, said he still won't agree to any land deal that jeopardizes the interests of his family's business.

At the same time, the city is moving to create a development plan for six acres of former railroad land in the heart of the downtown neighborhood.

The city expects to advertise for site planning and other technical services early next week, said Jack Lufkin, Portland's economic development director.

Interested firms will have until June 19 to apply.

The city plans to sell the land, as a whole or in pieces, to developers who would build several office buildings and a parking garage along Somerset Street.

The project may eventually include surrounding properties that are privately owned, if the owners want to be part of the deal, Lufkin said.

Among those privately owned properties is E. Perry Iron & Metal, one of two scrap-metal recycling yards that city officials have been trying to move out of Bayside for several years. A report in 2000 called the yards "the single most inhibiting factor to the successful redevelopment of Bayside."

The future of Lerman's 2-acre property has grown increasingly uncertain since last fall. That's when Portland officials decided to sell 13 acres on Riverside Street to New England Metal Recycling, the other Bayside scrap yard that was targeted for relocation.

Riverside is on the city's outskirts, near the Maine Turnpike.

Lufkin said Portland officials had been negotiating to sell some of the Riverside land to Lerman, but those talks reached a stalemate by the time New England Metal agreed to buy all 13 acres.

"We're back discussing relocation options for E. Perry," Lufkin said Tuesday.

Lufkin said those options include the remaining 20 acres of developable land on Riverside Street and E. Perry's secondary location in Scarborough.

If Lerman decides to sell his Bayside property on his own, the city will still offer federal money to help pay for the move, Lufkin said.

Lerman said the city's last offer wasn't enough.

"We're not just talking real estate here," Lerman said. "We're talking about a business."

Portland officials would like to avoid taking Lerman's land by eminent domain, which remains a possibility, Lufkin said.

"If we hit a wall with E. Perry, the result may be a decline in property values in Bayside, including E. Perry," Lufkin said.

Portland recently acquired 53 acres on Riverside Street in a $5 million deal financed through The Trust for Public Land.

New England Metal agreed to pay $1.5 million for its 13 acres. In return, the city will use federal grants and loans to pay $645,000 for the company's 1-acre scrap yard on Somerset Street in Bayside and provide $1 million to cover New England Metal's relocation costs.

The city plans to use most of the remaining 20 acres of developable land on Riverside to move its public works garages out of Bayside.

Corey
05-31-2006, 02:53 PM
It's great to see the city taking some initiative.

I noticed they've been up to something where this warehouse used to be, or possibly still clearing the site.

http://img170.imageshack.us/img170/2162/8716qd.jpg

Patrick
05-31-2006, 03:22 PM
^ I believe they are building a new supermarket there (wholefoods grocer?). If you ask me, supermarkets should be banned from the peninsula. I mean theres already like three in a row in bayside, do we really need another box store?

grittys457
05-31-2006, 08:36 PM
Yeah, that's the new Whole Foods lot. I'm actually pretty excited about that place. Still not sure if they realize where they are going to be located, but that's their problem.

Patrick
06-06-2006, 10:10 AM
Im assuming the story below is what you were referring to last night, gritty's. unfortunately, either they got it messed up, or the office building for intermed has been reduced one floor to 8-stories. Im hoping they made a typo. Why would they do that after the zoning in the area was just relaxed to allow 15 story buildings?? WIll you ask your bro if he knows anything...

Bayside projects get tax rebates
A student housing project planned for Marginal Way will get a $1.2 million tax break over 10 years even though some Portland city councilors say it won't have enough parking and many college students won't be able to afford the rents.

The council approved a total $6 million worth of property tax breaks Monday night for the multifaceted development planned for three acres of city land at Marginal Way and Preble Street Extension.

The parcel is at the edge of the up-and-coming Bayside neighborhood, right next to Interstate 295.

The deal includes a $4.8 million tax break over 15 years for an eight-story office building with street-level retail and a 430-space parking garage.

The developer, Theodore West of Cape Elizabeth, built the AAA Building at the same intersection.

Supporters said the tax breaks are necessary because the developers expanded their projects to meet city officials' demands for more parking.

As a result, their construction costs increased, largely because the site is a filled portion of Back Cove and requires massive pilings to be sunk nearly 150 feet below ground.

"The building is actually deeper than it is tall," said Greg Shinberg, West's spokesman.

The deal means the developers will receive rebates equal to 50 percent of the property taxes paid over the term of their individual agreements, said Jack Lufkin, Portland's economic development director.

The council agreed last fall to sell the city land for $1 million to West's company, Capital LLC, and its partner, Realty Resources Chartered of Rockport, which plans to build the student housing.

The sale agreement called for a tax break to be negotiated to help pay for the parking garage.

With little discussion Monday night, the council voted 6-1 to grant a tax break for the 72,000-square-foot, $19.4 million office building, with Councilor William Gorham opposed.

The council haggled some before voting 5-2 on the student housing tax break.

The housing will consist of two four-story buildings with 105 four-bedroom apartments and a 120-space, ground-level parking deck. When first proposed, it included no on-site parking.

Councilor Cheryl Leeman said she opposed financial support for the student housing because the developer has no agreement for guaranteed tenants with the University of Southern Maine, Southern Maine Community College or the Maine College of Art.

Joseph Cloutier, president of Realty Resources Chartered, said his $25 million project is aimed at attracting 4 percent to 5 percent of the college students living in Portland.

He said apartments in his project will rent for about $3,000 per month - about $750 per student.

Gorham questioned whether college students would be willing or able to pay that price.

"We're being asked to give a (tax break) to high-end housing," Gorham said before voting in opposition. "We're being asked to give away $1 million to a project that's going to fail."

Supporters said that if the student housing plan fails, the building will be converted to regular housing and the tax break will become invalid.

They said the project will answer a need for student housing and free up other apartments in the city.

They also said they expect the $6 million tax break to promote greater development interest in Bayside, including six acres of city land on Somerset Street that's up for sale.

"My hope is this will (encourage) others to jump into Bayside," said Councilor Edward Suslovic.

Both projects are expected to begin Planning Board review soon. The student housing is expected to open in August 2007, and the office building must be ready for its lead tenant by January 2008, Lufkin said.

grittys457
06-06-2006, 07:33 PM
yeah, that was the one from the city council meeting last night. I guess I was watching when one of the councilors opposing it was talking. I'm sure it's the same size. Might just be the way they count the floors with the parking. Crazy that they gotta 150 down to support it.

grittys457
06-06-2006, 07:43 PM
Little bit extra info from thebollard.com

The tax-increment-financing (TIF) arrangement will return up to $1.2 million in property tax payments to Realty Resources over 10 years. West's development company will get up to $4.8 million in property taxes back over a 15-year period. Audit stipulations in the agreement limit the TIF based on the project's financial performance, and the developers will still pay almost half of the property taxes due during the TIF periods.

In addition to the $1 million the developers are paying for the lot, the deal to provide tax relief for parking decks beneath the office building frees the city from a prior obligation to provide West with surface parking needed for a development he's building on the former site of the Miss Portland Diner.

The vote to grant a TIF for the office building was 6-1, with Gorham the lone opponent. The student housing TIF passed 5-2, with Leeman and Gorham opposed.

Councilor Donna Carr seemed to be leaning against the housing TIF, citing concerns over parking. A "no" vote by Carr would have killed the project, since Mayor Jim Cohen had to recuse himself due to his law firm's involvement in the deal. City Councilor Karen Geraghty had left the meeting earlier for unexplained reasons (she could not be reached for comment this morning), leaving only seven councilors present to make the decision.

Carr was the last councilor called during the roll-call vote, and after a few beats' hesitation, she voted in favor of the TIF, to the visible relief (and exasperation, depending on each person's position) of those present.

Patrick
06-07-2006, 11:23 AM
I still do not completely understand the Tax Increment Financing issue, mostly because I don't really care to take the time to explore it more, however someone who commented on the pressherald.com webpage concerning this article had a good point in response to all the people who were pissed off at TIFs for developers. They said, what's worse, less property taxes for developers, allowing them to make more money and attracting more developers in the future, or practically no tax money at all (as it is making as a parking lot). something is better than nothing.

I can't wait until down the road there is a wave of "tall" development pursued along interstate I-95. the new zoning there will allow 15-16 story buildings. this means they could potentially be the tallest in the city after that eyesore (I wont even say its name). however, congress street is zoned for 210 feet and we have'nt seen a flood of those proposed (one all in all actually...lincoln square from the 1980s @ 275 feet). so maybe the interstate will be filled with 10-13 story buildings. either way it will look sick. this city really can support more high rise development and office space than practically any other city in the country of its size with the exception of willmington, Deleware, which benefits tremendously from Philly. office vacancy in portland is like 2%. boston i believe is in the double digits. oh well.

in other news, i was just reading old articles on a NEW ARENA in portland. they were from the late 1990s, meaning if we built one, we would have been up to speed with manchester. oh well, at least we built a new high rise, oh wait we didnt...but at least we have, well, actually, we havent done anything, thats right.

the article was talking about something ridiculous. the proposal was to build a huge 50 million dollar structure with possibly no tax money (private donations) and combine it with 250 apartments and all the social service centers in bayside. can you imagine going to see a show at a new arena that was also home to our social services network. I believe that would be a new low for ghetto-ness.

Patrick
06-08-2006, 03:22 PM
Bayside housing, office buildings get tax break


PORTLAND ? A $38 million student housing and office building project planned for a Marginal Way parking lot will get a $6 million tax break over the next 15 years.

The City Council Monday night approved tax increment financing (TIF) for the project, a joint venture between developer Ted West and Realty Resources Chartered of Rockport. Under the TIF guidelines, West will get a $4.8 million break on taxes over 15 years for the 72,000-square-foot, eight-story office building and a 430-space parking garage he plans to construct. Realty Resources will receive a $1.2 million tax break over 10 years on the 100-unit college student housing it plans to build, which would have 100 underground parking spots.

The developers have been working on plans with the city for a year. It had been on its way to the council from the Community Development Committee last fall, but officials, including Councilor Will Gorham, questioned the lack of parking for the housing component of the project. At the time, there was no parking included for residents.

A redesign of the project to include more parking drove costs up. Greg Shinberg, a consultant for the project, said a lot of the increased cost was caused by the need for 143-foot pilings that have to be sunk into the ground to support the four-story parking garage.

The city-owned lot is about 3 acres and will be sold to West and Realty Resources for $1 million. That money will be given to the Land for Public Trust as part of the payment for land on Riverside Street where the city wants to move a Bayside scrap yard and the Public Works Department garage.

The approval did not come without debate between councilors and tough questions for Realty Resources President Joseph Cloutier.

Gorham on Monday said he still did not feel comfortable supporting the project. He said he could not support a TIF for high-end housing. ?This was flawed from the day it got here,? he said.

The four-bedroom apartments are expected to rent for a little less than $3,000 a month ? or about $725 per student. Cloutier said market research shows a demand for such housing. He said by providing student-specific housing, the project could draw on the estimated 11,000 college students living in Portland and free up other apartments in the city for non-students.

The two, four-story apartment buildings would have full time office staff and maintenance people. ?There will be ample on-site management of student life,? Cloutier said.

Councilor Jim Cloutier, the chairman of the Community Development Committee, said he supported the project because it would interject hundreds of students in to Bayside.

?It provides an influx of youth and energy,? he said.

Councilor Karen Geraghty had left the meeting prior to the vote and Mayor Jim Cohen recused himself. The TIF for the office building and a vote expanding the Bayside TIF district were approved with little discussion.

The housing TIF, however, need five affirmative votes and was approved 5-2 only after Councilor Donna Carr reluctantly decided to support the TIF.

Both projects are expected to be fast-tracked to the Planning Board. Jack Lufkin, the city?s economic development director, said after the vote that the housing is supposed to be completed in August and the office building in about 18 months.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net.

Why did they have to shave a floor off of the official height. now we know its not a typo.

Patrick
06-08-2006, 03:39 PM
fast tracked, eh? that means the student housing will be done two months from now. i doubt it.

castevens
06-08-2006, 03:41 PM
Patrick, you own this board. It's no fair, I can't keep up with this! I need people to be interested in Providence!!

Patrick
06-08-2006, 03:44 PM
haha I am all ears about providence, I just know very little about it. inform me!

Patrick
06-08-2006, 06:55 PM
http://www.uvm.edu/~pvenne/archboston/rend%20site%202.JPG

Patrick
06-28-2006, 02:01 PM
A few months ago, Portland city councilors were suggesting implementing a new zoning scheme for Bayside, one which would include greater height allowances. They spoke of two possibilities: one o fhaving 125 feet be the maximum, and another of having 165 feet be the maximum. I read that in the newspaper. The shortly after I read that the zoning amendments had been passed. I assumed it was the 165 foot limit that was passed, because it was that which received the most attention in the article. I was wrong. I just stumbled across this new height layout plan on the portland city website which says 125 feet is the maximum height in bayside nowadays. http://www.portlandmaine.gov/planning/optionb1.pdf

What really bugs me is that the height limit on the parcel of land where AAA is built has been changed to 125 feet, but there is already a 5-story building there, which is currently expanding across the street. had it been 125 all along, they could have just built a taller building to begin with. Also, where the new intermed building will go is aso zoned for about 11-12 stories, but they are only building an 8-story there. the other land along the interstate appears to only be zoned at 80 or so feet. sucks.

and here is a proposed project that has so far not gone anywhere:
http://www.loopnet.com/Attachments/5/D/6/5D69043D-553B-4AD7-A831-A20ABFB01A64.jpg

Property Description:
We are pleased to offer for lease this prime development site at the entrance to Downtown Portland. Property is located within the Bayside redevelopment district and directly across from the proposed Whole Foods. Owners will consider build-to-suits for large retail and office users. Ammenities include easy accessibilty, a traffic light at the corner of the property, and visibility from I-295. Ideal Signature location for operations looking for maximum exposure.

Location Description:
Located directly of the Franklin Arterial Exit (Exit 7) of I-295 at the entrance to Downtown Portland.

Zoning Description:
B-5
Additional Types: Retail (Other) Lot Size: 1.34 Acres

grittys457
07-22-2006, 10:12 PM
Supposed to be a big special report on Bayside and what it will look like in the future in tommorow's(Sunday's) paper. Go to www.pressherald.com if Pat hasn't posted it first.

Patrick
08-22-2006, 10:55 AM
A real estate investment firm that manages funds for pension plans and other institutional investors is scheduled to become the new owner of the Libra Foundation's remaining Portland properties this week.

The buyer is Guggenheim Real Estate LLC, which has offices in Boston, New York City, San Francisco and Charlotte and Chapel Hill, N.C.

Guggenheim declined to disclose the selling price, which has not yet been made public. If it's in line with Libra's asking price ? $65 million ? it would be the most expensive real estate transaction in the city's history, commercial brokers have said.

Guggenheim has invested in a diversified portfolio of properties worth more than $2 billion, including shopping centers, office buildings and apartments. The Libra holdings are Guggenheim's first purchase in Maine, although the company said it would consider future investments in the state.

Guggenheim is expected to take title Thursday to seven downtown properties, with a total of 724,812 square feet of space and 1,000 parking spots. The properties are the three Canal Plaza office buildings; the Fore Street parking garage and an adjacent lot; 465 Congress St., home of Maine Bank & Trust, and the Portland Public Market and its skybridge-connected parking garage.

For the most part, Guggenheim will assume ownership of stable, income-producing properties that are fully leased. The firm said it doesn't plan any big changes at these buildings, so the process should be more or less transparent for tenants.

The notable exception is the public market. Most of the vendors have left the landmark building or have made plans to do so, after Libra signaled earlier this year that its potential new buyer had no interest in running the money-losing venture.

Guggenheim typically doesn't talk publicly about its investments, or even disclose its presence in a community. But in his first media interview in Maine, the firm's acquisitions manager said Guggenheim was buying the Portland properties as a long-term investment and was sensitive to community concerns about the future of the buildings, notably the 32,000 square-foot public market.

Joseph Mahoney, a principal with Guggenheim in Boston, said the firm was still studying the best use for the glass-and-wood building and wouldn't make a rushed decision.

Mahoney said he's aware of public interest in how the eight-year-old building might be redeveloped. He knows the history of Libra's effort to help farmers and small-business people, and extend economic development into the city's Bayside neighborhood. The firm will consult with local experts before moving ahead with redevelopment, he said.

"It's a business decision, but it can't be made in a vacuum," Mahoney said. One of those experts will be Morris Fisher, president of Boulos Property Management. The company is currently managing the properties for Libra and will be retained by Guggenheim.

Fisher said he has received proposals from businesses that want to lease the building when it becomes vacant. It's an attractive property, he said, with the attached parking garage, a loading dock and flexible, open space that could be reconfigured to suit a variety of tenants, most likely office or retail.

It's possible, Fisher said, that Guggenheim could hire an architect to help identify structural options for the reuse of the unconventional structure. Finding a new tenant could take six to 12 months, he estimated, and proposals are welcome.

"It's great space," he said. "We just need to think beyond what it has been to date."

Guggenheim has purchased a wide range of properties around the country, often through partnerships with local real estate investors and developers. Among its recent ventures is a 240-unit apartment complex in Houston, a trio of office and retail buildings in San Diego and a shopping center and office building in the Miami area.

Guggenheim is a professionallyrun real estate firm that is responsive to the needs of tenants and communities, according to Mark Corlew, vice president of investment services at Stiles Capital Partners in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Stiles is part of a commercial real estate development and investment company with more than 30 million square feet of office, industrial and retail space in the Southeast. It has formed seven partnerships with Guggenheim over the past three years for $300 million worth of investments in Florida, typically office and retail space.

Guggenheim takes good care of its buildings, Corlew said. It pays attention to small matters, such as carpeting in the lobbies, and larger issues, such as heating and cooling equipment.

"They're proud of their properties," Corlew said. "They should be a good corporate citizen in your community."

Maine hadn't been on Guggenheim's radar screen as a potential investment market, Mahoney said. The firm learned of the sale when it received marketing materials prepared by CB Richard Ellis/The Boulos Co., which sold the properties for Libra. After visiting the city, Guggenheim found Libra's buildings to be well maintained and profitable. It also liked Portland's stable commercial real estate market, which is considered less vulnerable to speculative construction and boom-and-bust cycles.

"Portland is better suited for longer-term investments," Mahoney said. Libra entertained more than a dozen bids before choosing Guggenheim. Financial ability was an obvious criterion, but the foundation also said it looked for a buyer that had a good corporate profile. Libra has spent millions of dollars upgrading its buildings over the past 11 years, and wanted a buyer who would maintain them.

Mahoney said Guggenheim is basing its purchase on a 10-year financial analysis. The firm says it follows an investment strategy aimed at outperforming a benchmark derived from a composite index of private and public real estate activity.

As Guggenheim prepares to close on the properties, Libra is selling tables, chairs and the components of the market's restaurants at auction on Thursday. Soon after Labor Day, Fisher estimated, all but three of the vendors will be gone from the building. All remaining leases will be honored by Guggenheim, Fisher said.

As the transition approaches, the market at midday on Monday had a vacant, almost surreal feel to it.

All businesses have left the area by the entrance nearest Maine Bank & Trust, leaving a row of empty stalls. Commerce is clustered in the remaining spaces along Cumberland Avenue.

Small groups of tourists and locals were buying lunch and sampling products, but the building was noticably quiet. An office worker used her cell phone to photograph the scene, capturing the images, she said, for nostalgia.

Kris Horton, owner of K. Horton Specialty Foods and one of the four vendors moving next month to a new market in Monument Square, said "the emptying out process" has been painful, but has given her time to speak with all her customers and update them on the move.

grittys457
08-22-2006, 08:34 PM
http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/portland-me/index.html

grittys457
08-22-2006, 09:54 PM
http://www.wcsh6.com/news/local/article.aspx?storyid=40413

Patrick
08-26-2006, 04:24 PM
Bayside garage: Is city rushing?



City officials have accelerated the timeline for developing a parking garage in the Bayside neighborhood, raising concerns that the project is being rushed through.

The city and Bayside neighborhood representatives want to build a new parking garage on Somerset Street, near the planned extension of Pearl Street. They want to obtain Planning Board approval for a site plan before Sept. 30


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
the deadline to access a $650,000 federal grant that would pay for the planning process.

A Planning Board workshop is set for Sept. 19 and a public hearing is set for Sept. 26.

Critics are questioning why Portland officials are planning a garage before the City Council has identified a developer willing to build it.

''My concern is that it's being rushed through,'' said Stephen Scharf, who said he spoke as a resident and not in his role as president of the Portland Taxpayers' Association. ''We're designing the project before we find a person to build it or even consider the question of whether we should build it.''

Kevin Beal, Planning Board chairman, said some board members expressed concern earlier this week about having time to review the garage's impact on traffic. He also wondered whether the garage's appearance will be reviewed because design standards have yet to be established for Bayside's new zoning district.

Portland officials say the city doesn't have $12 million to $14 million to build the garage, and they hope developers interested in the former railroad land will want to build the garage if the site plan is approved.

Lee Urban, Portland's director of planning and urban development, said he can understand why some people are concerned about the hurried planning process and city's self-review.

''We're sensitive to the concern, but this is not a secret deal,'' he said. ''It may appear like we're putting the cart before the horse, but otherwise it would look like we're throwing away (grant) money.''

Portland officials also say they've taken steps to ensure the proposal is thoroughly reviewed. Steps include the creation of a 19-member steering committee of neighborhood residents, business owners and others.

The 665-space, seven-level garage would be at Somerset Street and the proposed extension of Pearl Street, on six acres of former railroad land that the city recently acquired from the Maine Department of Transportation. A consulting team, led by Scott Simons Architects of Portland, started designing the garage in July.

Urban said the appearance of the garage will be closely scrutinized and the state may review the project's traffic impacts.

Patrick
10-01-2006, 12:22 PM
Watch the video

http://www.wgme.com/NewsWeather/story_10.shtml

Patrick
10-12-2006, 10:07 AM
City planners approve subdivision of Bayside site
E-mail this page Reader Comments (below)
By KELLEY BOUCHARD, Staff Writer Portland Press Herald Thursday, October 12, 2006

Portland's move to subdivide city land at Marginal Way and Preble Street Extension signals that progress is being made on several projects planned at the Bayside intersection.
The Planning Board approved a five-lot subdivision Tuesday night that paves the way for a medical office building, student housing and an expanded Miss Portland Diner to be built on the narrow, 4-acre site along Interstate 295.
The subdivision has been anticipated for years as the city pushed ahead with plans to redevelop the largely industrial Bayside neighborhood into a commercial and residential gateway to downtown Portland.
"This is just the next step, which shows how these projects are moving along," Jack Lufkin, Portland's economic development director, said Wednesday.
The subdivision includes a parcel at Marginal Way and Preble Street Extension where Cape Elizabeth developer Theodore West plans to build a $20 million, eight-story office building and parking garage for Intermed. West built the AAA building and is constructing another office building at the same intersection.
The Planning Board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the Intermed building's site plan in November.
The subdivision also includes a parcel at 120 Marginal Way, where the $25 million Bayside Village Student Housing would be built. The five-story, 100-suite apartment building includes 102 ground-floor parking spaces. The project will go before the Planning Board on Oct. 24, said Alexander Jaegerman, Portland's planning director.
Last fall, the City Council agreed to sell about 3 acres for the office building and student housing for $1 million to West and his partner, Realty Resources Chartered of Rockport, which is developing the student housing.
In June, the council gave the office building a $4.8 million property tax break over 15 years and the student housing a $1.2 million tax break over 10 years.
The subdivided city land includes a 6,000-square-foot parcel on Marginal Way that would be occupied by the Miss Portland Diner. The council agreed in August to sell the diner to Thomas Manning, a Newsweek magazine executive who grew up on Munjoy Hill.
Manning would pay $25,000 for the diner, which is in storage, and $75,000 for the land, which has a bus shelter. He said he plans to invest as much as $750,000 in the project, which would include adding kitchen space and seating to the authentic Worcester Lunch Car.
The sale of city land to private owners hinges on each project getting various city approvals.
The other two parcels in the subdivision are owned by the city and the state. The state acquired its parcel in a recent land swap with the city because it plans to extend passenger rail service along the highway to Brunswick.

Corey
10-13-2006, 07:24 AM
Awesomeee

Patrick
10-15-2006, 01:13 PM
Attention to Bayside reveals its social ills


NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY
Much of Bayside is built on filled land. The neighborhood's tidal waters originally extended as far inland as Cumberland Avenue. After 1790, development began between Green and Fiddle streets, now Forest Avenue and Franklin Arterial.

In the 19th century Bayside housed an ethnically diverse population, including many immigrants who worked in its potteries, tanneries and distilleries. Ships sailed into Back Cove to transport goods and services.

The Great Fire of 1866 touched the district but did not destroy it. Demolished structures were used as fill to extend the neighborhood further into Back Cove.

As Portland expanded, residents moved away from Bayside. The area was in decline by the 1920s when The Slum Clearance and Redevelopment Authority was created to address the area's deterioration. But the area still had more than 2,000 residents in the late 1960s.

In the 1990s, an EPA grant funded a Brownfield's project to clean up industrial waste in the neighborhood.Unity Village, 33 affordable housing units built by the city, opened in 2001.

SOURCE: Participatory Planning in Portland's Bayside Neighborhood, Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service, October 2001.

-- Staff researcher Julia McCue


For six years, Portland's effort to revitalize Bayside has focused on attracting commercial investment, encouraging affordable housing and getting rid of two scrap-metal recycling yards.
Little has been said publicly about the neighborhood's long-standing role as southern Maine's social service hub -- including two homeless shelters and related support programs -- and how that might clash with the city's redevelopment goals.
Police say arrests for drugs, prostitution and property crimes are up 27 percent in Bayside over last year.
Residents complain of intoxicated people sleeping on porches and in back yards, defecating in bushes, or dealing drugs. Some say these problems are getting worse. Others say they're nothing new.
"There's not really a rise in crime. It's just people are noticing it now," said Nathlie Hansen, one of Portland's homeless people.
Most agree the shelters and social service programs aren't going anywhere soon. But most also agree the city and other agencies need to spend more time and money on the growing friction in Bayside in order for its transformation to succeed.
"It's already hurting us and it's going to continue to hurt us. People have a threshold of what they're willing to stand and then they're going to leave the community," said Ronald Spinella, chairman of the Bayside Neighborhood Association and owner of 3 Fish Guild, an art gallery on Cumberland Avenue.
Changes have already started, with a Whole Foods supermarket under construction on Franklin Arterial and several office buildings and apartment complexes in various stages of development. Portland officials also have plans to move the scrap yards and public works facilities to Riverside Street, on the outskirts of the city.
Bayside covers a dozen square blocks along Interstate 295, from Franklin Arterial to Forest Avenue and from Cumberland Avenue to Marginal Way. It has long been a largely industrial district with few commercial and residential areas.
But it also hosts a variety of local, state and nonprofit agencies, including job placement programs, a soup kitchen and the city's health clinic for homeless people.
In 2000, the city issued "A New Vision For Bayside," a redevelopment guide calling for the formation of a stakeholders' group to preserve the neighborhood's role as a social service center.
The city is forming that group now after concerns about increased crime, said Douglas Gardner, Portland's director of health and human services, which operates the Oxford Street Shelter and a family shelter on Myrtle Street.
Gardner said few problems originate at the shelters, especially at the Oxford Street Shelter where a police officer is assigned each night. But he acknowledged problems may be caused by people who are turned away from the 154-bed adult shelter because they're too intoxicated.
With that in mind, Gardner said he sees addiction as the major problem that must be addressed as the city moves ahead with Bayside's revitalization. He said the city and its social service partners must improve outreach and treatment for substance abuse.
According to police, calls for emergency services are up 8 percent, from 6,789in the first nine months of 2005 to 7,382 during the same period this year. Arrests are up 27 percent this year, from 288 to 393, said Police Chief Timothy Burton, who is part of the stakeholders' group.
Burton said it's unclear whether crime is up or simply being reported more often. Regardless, he's not surprised by the spike in arrests or complaints.
"Friction is natural when a neighborhood is going through change," Burton said. "It's a question of how it manifests itself and what we do about it."
To that end, Portland officials are considering a variety of law enforcement options, such as strengthening the "disorderly house" ordinance, which would allow city officials to shut down apartment buildings where criminal activity takes place undeterred by landlords.
Officials say crime in Bayside is high for a neighborhood of about 1,000 homeowners and apartment dwellers. But that number is boosted each day by several hundred homeless people and others who visit Bayside for food, shelter and other services, said Jon Bradley, assistant director of Preble Street, which operates a resource center and other programs.
Friction between the homeless and homeowners is expected to intensify as more of Portland's wooded areas are developed, such as the former "hobo jungle" where the I-295 connector was built last year along the Fore River. As a result, officials said, homeless people who usually camp out are moving to wooded areas of South Portland and Westbrook.
But each day they return to Portland for food and services, joining others who visit and live in Bayside because it offers many of the programs they need to survive, said Laurel Merchant, a homeless woman who is a peer advocate and community educator.
Merchant said she and others don't see where they fit in the new "vision" for Bayside. She said city officials and others must find a place for homeless people and other social service recipients in the neighborhood's future.
"These people are seeing that their home is going to be gone," Merchant said. "They're not seeing the benefits that everyone else is seeing. They're seeing the city making it harder for them to get along. The city needs to reach out to the homeless before they build more buildings."
Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be reached at 791-6328 or
kbouchard@pressherald.com


Reader comments

susan of biddeford, me
Oct 15, 2006 9:03 AM
i grew up in portland.
why do you have to transform this neighborhood and boot out those who are considered "undesirable"?
changing a neighborhood takes time. why not do what toronto did many years ago? one street low-income, next street-midincome, and the next high-income and businesses sprinkled in to have it a great neighborhood!

Dave of Skowhegan, me
Oct 15, 2006 8:42 AM
Portland should be cutting social services not adding more.

Patrick
10-17-2006, 12:43 AM
Editorial Bayside is a journey of many 'next steps'

Portland Press Herald Monday, October 16, 2006

The long-awaited and much debated evolution of Portland is slowly taking shape.
The latest good news comes as Portland's Planning Board approved the subdivision of city land in Bayside, taking the "next step" in the redevelopment of the area along Marginal Way near the intersection with Preble Street.
Bayside and the waterfront are two critical areas as Portland looks to remake and improve itself. Bayside represents the biggest makeover opportunity, as the city continues the transformation of an industrial area through mixed-use redevelopment.
The plan here is highlighted by an eight-story office building, flanked by a five-story Bayside Village Student Housing apartment building. A third parcel seems likely to have a remodeled Miss Portland Diner.
The Bayside project promises to bring a sorely needed sense of identity to this section of Marginal Way.
At present, the area suffers from the noisy presence of I-295. The office building and student apartments, however, will form a barrier between the highway and Marginal Way -- enhancing the streetside aspects of Marginal Way.
Planners should continue to emphasize the street-level aesthetics of the project. For example, the decision to incorporate a parking garage into the Intermed office building plan was a good move. The lure of a authentic, iconic diner is another.
Pedestrian traffic in this area will certainly increase, considering the introduction of 100 student apartments and the lunchtime strolling of office workers next door. The presence of two natural foods stores that already exist across the street will also amplify foot traffic.
The four lanes of Marginal Way present somewhat of a barrier to foot-traffic synergy with the surrounding area, but it's a small issue compared to what's been overcome thus far.


Reader comments

Steven Scharf of Port;land, ME
Oct 16, 2006 10:20 AM
A 100 foot wide road is a small issue?

Bayside is intended to be a "pedstrian friendly transit oreinted district". Everything being developed contines the city homage to the car and other vehicles. You missed the fact that the city planning board just approved a 7 story 700 car parking garage although the developer (the city) does not have the financial authority to build it.

Steven Scharf
SCSMedia@aol.com

Patrick
10-17-2006, 02:42 PM
an article in todays paper said waterview has 2/3 units under contract and plans to begin construction this spring (2 years too late!). sorry im nto posting this one, at least not now...too tired.

Patrick
10-23-2006, 09:18 AM
Homeless benefits aplenty in Bayside
Speaking about the homeless in Bayside, "peer advocate" Laurel Merchant states, "They're not seeing the benefits that everyone else is seeing" ("Attention to Bayside reveals its social ills," Oct. 15).
This is incorrect. Free meals every day are a benefit. Free nightly accommodations are a benefit. Free medical care and prescription drugs are benefits. Access to "related support programs" like public housing and other entitlements is a benefit.
The reason there are problems in Bayside is because that area offers so many benefits to the homeless. Taxes from Bayside residents and business owners help fund these benefits.
"Community educators" like Merchant who state the city "must find a place for homeless people" don't see the absurdity of insisting that those who generate tax revenues increase support for those who consume tax revenue, especially when these same consumers cause an increase in "drugs, prostitution and property crime."
No wonder businessmen like Mr. Ronald Spinella are thinking of leaving a neighborhood where the people who pass out in his backyard demand that he help pay the cost of their daily maintenance.
Parker Gardner
Portland

Patrick
10-23-2006, 09:34 AM
http://www.pressherald.mainetoday.com/photos/061017condo1.jpg
Finish carpenter David Haseltine works on one of the higher-priced condo units at 547A Congress St. last week.
http://www.pressherald.mainetoday.com/photos/061017condo2.jpg
Tom Moulton, developer of the 547A Congress St. project, stands in one of the units with a view of Back Cove. The condos, with wood floors and brick walls, are meant to resemble New York City lofts.
http://www.pressherald.mainetoday.com/photos/061017condo3.jpg
The condos at 547A Congress St. range in price from $165,000 for a studio to $650,000 for a 3,000-square-foot unit. Sixteen of the 18 units have already been sold.

Market stalls, condos follow

Last December, developers of a proposed Westin hotel/condominium complex in downtown Portland were confidently predicting that they'd quickly get deposits on the project's 97 luxury units and break ground during the summer. By March, they now acknowledge, only a dozen hopeful buyers had put down money.
"The timing was off," said Tom Niles, executive vice president for development at The Procaccianti Group. "I think people were starting to pull back and wait on the sidelines."
Timing. The widely repeated mantra in real estate is location. But market timing can be just as crucial, although not as easy to recognize.
That's especially true for the handful of major, mixed-use condominium development plans that have attracted so much publicity in Maine's largest city. These are complicated, expensive ventures that can take years to approve, finance and construct. Their fate is influenced by unforeseen shifts in the overall economy, interest rates and construction costs. To date, none has been built.
By contrast, some smaller projects that either involved renovating existing buildings or were aimed at mid-level buyers have moved forward. Faster to bring on line, they were in the right locations at the right time.
Earlier this month, The Procaccianti Group of Rhode Island asked the city for a one-year extension of its site-plan approval. The developer was essentially saying that it had missed the latest wave of demand for high-end condominiums in Portland and would position itself for the next surge.
"Markets go in waves," Niles said. "And they don't all go at the same time."
The image of real estate markets moving up and down in waves is an apt description. As early as 2004, Niles said, there was a perception that the wave was cresting in some big-city condo markets.
But Procaccianti expected the wave to continue rising in Portland, when Michael Liberty, principal in the South Portland-based Liberty Cos. and a partner in the venture, first proposed the $110 million project.
Procaccianti was banking on a mixed-use strategy to help reduce risk. Its primary goal was to build a profitable, four-star hotel in downtown Portland. To offset the cost and reduce daily room rates, developers wanted to underwrite the hotel with luxury condos, with prices ranging from $500,000 to $1 million.
This formula was familiar to Procaccianti. It recently bought The Westin Providence Hotel, which has 364 rooms. Next door it is building a 380-foot tower with retail space, interior parking, 200 new guest rooms and 105 condominiums.
Procaccianti had lined up financing for Portland, Niles said. But it wanted 30 percent of the condo units under contract before moving ahead. When that didn't happen, the company first considered scaling back, then decided to put the entire venture on hold. It also listed the site for sale -- to keep its options open, the company said.
Procaccianti now plans to tear down the former Jordan Meats plant and develop a parking lot in the interim. If it moves forward with development, the redesign is likely to feature a different mix of hotel rooms, condos, retail and office space. The company needs to envision the market in 2009, though. It will take roughly 22 months just to build the project.
Major, high-end condo projects have been difficult to develop in Portland, in part because there's really nothing comparable in the market.
That has been one challenge facing Riverwalk LLC, which is developing The Longfellow, a 116-unit luxury condo project across from the city's Ocean Gateway cruise-ship terminal. The company plans to start construction in December on an adjacent, 719-space parking garage, aided by special zoning and tax breaks from the city. It plans to begin the condos sometime next spring, with starting prices of $500,000.
To gauge demand, the developer examined sales at existing luxury condos, such as Chandler's Wharf. It reviewed where buyers came from and their current home values. It also looked at pre-sales of luxury condos in Boston, Providence and other nearby markets.
This information only helps shape rough projections, said Tim Seekamp, president of Harborview Properties, which is owned by one of the Riverwalk LLC partners. While these figures were being gathered, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the global demand for building materials sent prices for concrete and steel up nearly 30 percent.
"It makes it difficult to put a number on what a project really costs to build," said Seekamp, who also was involved in marketing The Westin project.
The Longfellow, which has been in the works for roughly three years, is gaining momentum now, thanks to a recently formed partnership with Intercontinental Real Estate Corp. of Boston, a large real estate investment firm and developer.
Nick Iselin, the company's director of development and construction, said he'd like to have 20 percent to 30 percent of the condo units under contract before breaking ground, but expects it will take up to two years to sell every unit.
"We have a long time to market this product," he said.
The projects that have moved ahead so far are smaller ventures that target a niche, such as young professionals or empty-nesters who want to live in the downtown arts and business district. They include a handful of projects along and near Congress Street, including Kimball Court, 537 Lofts, Chestnut Street Lofts and 547A Winslow Lofts.
Tom Moulton, who is redeveloping the building at 547A Congress St., said he has sold 16 of the 18 available units, which range in price from $165,000 for a studio to $650,000 for a 3,000-square-foot unit. His project, which features New York City loft-style living with brick walls and hardwood floors, is nearly complete. It took 16 months to build and cost $4.5 million.
"At the time we did it," he said, "banks were willing to lend for speculative development."
The passage of time has been a mixed blessing for Jeff Cohen and Waterview Development LLC.
His company has been trying for nearly two years to build a 12-story, 94-unit project on Cumberland Avenue. He endured a court challenge from neighbors, which lasted more than a year. Now he's negotiating a construction loan and said he hopes to break ground this spring on the $25 million project. Roughly two-thirds of the units are under contract, he said, for prices ranging from $285,000 to $495,000.
The delay hurt him, Cohen said, because construction prices rose and demand softened. But in the long run, he said, the market should be in better shape when he starts building next year.
Staff Writer Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or at:
tturkel@pressherald.com


Reader comments

Scott of Wilton, ME
Oct 17, 2006 11:22 PM
tw,

Traditional Maine values include a world class work ethic (we still speak english in our stores), close relationship to the land (we actually know the name of the stream running through the our property), hunting, fishing, public access on private land (instead of protesting and posting your land), tolerance of wildlife instead of whining when a turkey craps in your backyard, stopping to assist someone in need of help (we're not egocentric robots like many of those south of the border), weekends at the camp with family and friends, campfires on the beach, target practice in the backyard, country music, actually taking a truck off pavement and getting dirty, being able to farm without transplants complaining about the aroma of chicken manure, and enjoying bean hole beans actually cooked in the ground. We don't much care what you do, so long as you don't threaten the lifestyle we have chosen. This ethic is not as strong in southern maine, due to the dilution effect. There's a big state outside of Portland. We have respect for privacy and more tolerance than you give us credit for. Yes, we may have trailers, but you have whole towns that are slums; Chelsea, Everett, Lawrence, etc,. In other more "affluent" towns, the neighbors don't even know each others names. Perhaps you can't comprehend this since you didn't grow up in Maine. Many people from away develop an appreciation for this, while others remain numb. In regards to state employment, I imagine narsicism exists to some extent in all state governments, but by no means is it a job requirement. Maybe you ought to explore other means to enhance your resume so you will be more competitive next time you apply.

Vince of Portland, ME
Oct 17, 2006 4:38 PM
There is this odd arrogance that exists among many Mainers. I am born and raised in Maine, but I spent about 6 years in Boston. My time in Boston taught me that the only major differences between Massachusetts and Maine are the existence of high tech companies and realism.

tw
Oct 17, 2006 4:09 PM
To Steve, others,...exactly what are the "traditional maine culture and values" that have been so special? Seems to me Maine people having been screwing over other mainers for decades.

Maine crime rates were worse 20-30 years ago before rich outsiders started moving in,sex offenders in todays maine headlinenews always seem to have offenses that go back decades in the state, and every mainer knows 'you can not get a local or state job unless your related to another mainer'.

So explain why traditional maine culture and values are all that treasured? Sorry, in my opinion mainers are and have been quite mean to each other for a long time.

joan of portland, me
Oct 17, 2006 4:05 PM
Hey Joanne and tw I hate to break it to you but the people who act like you describe are bitter transplants who came here thinking they would be wealthy. For the most part their wealth has been eaten up by high cost of living or taxes, not the way they thought life should be. Native Mainers know that we don't have good paying jobs here and the cost of living and taxes is outrageous, we either stay or leave we are not bitter trailer trash. If you look back into history you will find that some of the worlds most wealthy people have been living or summering in Maine because we aren't overly impressed with them and bother them. Here in Maine there are many people who could buy and sell you a million times over but for the most part we are not showboats. Perhaps you've mistaken our respecting others space (and pride in ourselves) for jealosy. I'm terribly sorry you feel that way but I hope it makes you stay away or go back where you came from.

Joanne of South Portland, ME
Oct 17, 2006 3:24 PM
I totally agree with you tc! I've been in Maine for about 18 years now from the New York area, and I find that many Mainers give anyone with more than they have the cold shoulder. Like it's wrong if you're not as you put it "Trailer Trash Mainers".

Scott of Wilton, ME
Oct 17, 2006 2:31 PM
tw,

I need to elaborate on your comment. The perceived distain for "richies from away" is not their wealth, but the changing demographic they represent. Maine, especially southern Maine, is becoming a choice site for "the beautiful people." These folks are considered a threat to the traditional maine culture and values. People move here and attempt to change the state, rather than appreciating the qualities that have made it a great place to live for natives and those from away. Personally, I'd rather more successful people move here than those more despondent folk that have nothing to contribute, yet expect to be recipients of lifelong social services.

tw
Oct 17, 2006 1:57 PM
WOW! I thought Maine was an all American patriotic state. Your typical resident seems to hate people with any wealth above a pickup truck and a trailer for a home.

Ever consider moving to a communist country? How about North Korea?

Kate of Portland, ME
Oct 17, 2006 1:23 PM
I could not afford a 500K condo or house anywhere. Not at this point in my life, anyway. Yet, I don't see a reason to be jealous and irritated about the fact that others *can.*

So what if you pass someone in Monument Square who lives in a million dollar condo? You're just as likely to stand in line at the bank next to someone who lives in a million dollar house in Falmouth. Again, so what?

Where people choose to settle with their wealth is really not my concern. I don't think we're in danger of having Portland turn into Beverly Hills, California.

*breathe*

John of Camden, ME
Oct 17, 2006 12:52 PM
Well, Sally G, I didn't think I was whining. I was thinking of what kind of lunatic would shell out $500,000 for a condo on smelly old Congress Street?

A condo in NYC gives you access to a vast metropolis. A condo on Congress Street gives you access to morning social anomie with vagrants living in your doorwell, boarded up storefronts across the way, about 4 months of frigid snow-covered city landscape, and limited cultural resources.

In terms of value, it just isn't there. But I suppose there's a sucker born every minute for every opportunist developer trying his dernest to cash in before things peak.

tw of boston, ma
Oct 17, 2006 12:28 PM
For you former New Yorkers,i could have told years ago 'moving from NY City to Portland,Maine' is a lateral move.

Check out the higher rates of Rape,burglary,larceny theft rates compared to NY City:

http://portlandme.areaconnect.com/crime/compare.htm?c1=Portland&s1=ME&c2=new+york&s2=NY

Patrick
10-24-2006, 09:58 AM
PORTLAND: Board will discuss plans for housing, drug clinic
The Portland Planning Board will hold a public hearing tonight on a proposed student housing complex on Marginal Way.
The public hearing is scheduled to begin at 7:30 in room 209 at Portland City Hall.
Southern Maine Student Housing is proposing a five--story, 100--unit complex across the street from Wild Oats Market.
The board is also scheduled to discuss a Massachusetts company's plan to open a methadone clinic on Congress Street. Community Substance Abuse Centers is asking for change-of-use approval to renovate the building at 2300 Congress St., which was last occupied by Idexx Laboratories, Inc.

Kevin Beal of Portland, ME
Oct 24, 2006 8:19 AM
Re: Planning Board meeting / Marginal Way Student Housing.

The applicant has requested that this matter be tabled to November 14, 2006, and the request is likely to be granted. So, for those members of the public who are interested in the Marginal Way student housing proposal, please note that the Planning Board will NOT be considering this application tonight.

Kevin Beal
Chair, Portland Planning Board

Patrick
10-24-2006, 08:07 PM
http://img87.imageshack.us/img87/5168/cfthev2.th.jpg (http://img87.imageshack.us/my.php?image=cfthev2.jpg)

Patrick
10-24-2006, 08:21 PM
http://img182.imageshack.us/img182/550/dsc02143it7.jpg

cneal
12-08-2006, 09:20 AM
Renderings of the Bayside garage and hoped-for redevelopment nearby. While it's unlikely that the buildings along Somerset Street will actually look like this, this is a good indication of what the city wants, and will allow, in the area.

http://www.geocities.com/christiannealmcneil/dtcurrent_Page_35_Image_0001.jpg

Note the existing development facing Marginal Way: a big sea of parking lots for the Health and Human Services building (left side) and Wild Oats (lower right), which soon may be run out of business by the new Whole Foods (upper left, with a big parking lot of its own). Also visible is the proposed new Miss Portland Diner, at the end of Chestnut Street on Marginal Way (lower left). The proposed Pearl Place housing is out of sight in this perspective.

http://www.geocities.com/christiannealmcneil/dtcurrent_Page_37_Image_0001.jpg

These are from a PDF of "current backup material" (it's actually from two months ago) on the Downtown Portland Corporation web site: http://www.portlandmaine.gov/downtown.htm.

Patrick
12-08-2006, 10:47 AM
wow! You are my new best friend! That is tremendous material you stumbled across! What n earth is that in the very lower right? I hope it is the corner of a building top, it sure looks like it is! What a good opportunity for the city to make vast improvements, i hope they use it wisely! And whole foods has been purchased by the new grocer down there on franklin arterial (the one under const.) so i think it is going out of business when the new one opens up.

portlandneedsnewarena
12-08-2006, 12:20 PM
wow! You are my new best friend! That is tremendous material you stumbled across! What n earth is that in the very lower right? I hope it is the corner of a building top, it sure looks like it is! What a good opportunity for the city to make vast improvements, i hope they use it wisely! And whole foods has been purchased by the new grocer down there on franklin arterial (the one under const.) so i think it is going out of business when the new one opens up.

Patrick, did you see the article in today's PPH ragarding the sale of the "Time and Temperature Building" at 477 Congress St. that it was sold to a group out of NY. Jeffrey Cohen bought in 2003 for $9.5 mil. and sold 3 years later for $13 mil. Not bad!! He says at the end of the article that he plans construction to begin on Waterview next year (heard that before). Source today tells me that Waterview is very unlikey to ever get built due the fact that the market for Condos is very soft and the Waterview location is not very attractive (I agree). He thinks JC will take the money and run.

Patrick
12-08-2006, 01:55 PM
I agree, if I were cohen I would do the same. But in the future he may change his mind. That is still a very attractive spot given its location to back bay tower and congress street. if settles parking and makes it easier he would make tons.

Patrick
12-08-2006, 02:33 PM
N.Y. firm purchases downtown landmark

http://www.pressherald.mainetoday.com/photos/061208building.jpg


A New York real estate investment firm has bought 477 Congress St., the Portland office tower known as the Time and Temperature Building for the big flashing sign on its roof.
Brooklyn-based Kalmon Dolgin Affiliates, owned by the Dolgin family, said it acquired the 14-story building and an adjacent 436-space parking garage from developer Jeffrey Cohen for $13 million. The deal closed Wednesday.
Josh Dolgin, vice president of Kalmon Dolgin, said the 102-year-old firm has been interested in Portland since it bid on the Libra Foundation's properties in the city earlier this year.
Dolgin said the firm finished second behind Guggenheim Real Estate in the battle for seven downtown properties totaling nearly 725,000 square feet of office space and 1,000 parking spaces.
Dolgin declined to say how much his firm bid for the real estate, and the actual sale price for those buildings wasn't disclosed, but he said Kalmon Dolgin and Guggenheim engaged in "a lot of back and forth" bidding for the properties. The Libra Foundation was asking $65 million for its holdings in the city, which included the three Canal Plaza buildings; a Fore Street parking garage and adjacent lot; 465 Congress St.; and the Portland Public Market building and garage.
"We wound up in second place there," Dolgin said. But CB Richard Ellis/The Boulos Co., which handled the Libra Foundation transaction, told Kalmon Dolgin that other downtown properties were for sale.
"They thought this was a very good fit for us," Dolgin said of the 82-year-old building.
Dolgin said his firm will make improvements, but the digital sign "absolutely" will remain. He said his firm generally waits about six months before deciding on specific projects to undertake.
"We recognize the building's importance in the history of Portland and the skyline," he said. "We just intend to enhance that and bring it into more prominence."
The building's tenants include law firms, banks and a street-level television studio for WMTW-TV, Channel 8. Dolgin said the market for office space in Portland is stable with low vacancy rates, and that 477 Congress has a history of strong occupancy rates and good cash flow.
Dolgin said his company owns 7 million square feet of office and industrial space around the country and is interested in additional purchases in Portland.
"We like critical mass and would definitely like to build on this," he said. "We think Portland is a fantastic city and very vibrant. We definitely will be looking for more investments up there."
Dolgin said there's also a family connection to the city. His wife, Rebecca McCarthy, is from Portland.
Cohen, who bought the building from the Libra Foundation in 2003 for $9.5 million, could not be reached for comment on the Congress Street sale.
Cohen also is developing the Waterview at Bayside condominium project at the corner of Cumberland and Forest avenues.
That $25 million, 94-unit project has been in the works for more than two years. Cohen has said he plans to begin construction next year.