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Patrick 05-31-2006 11:36 AM

Redeveloping Portland's Bayside District
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.

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

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 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 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

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

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.

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:

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:
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 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

grittys457 08-22-2006 09:54 PM

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

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