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Old 12-04-2011, 02:27 PM   #1401
grittys457
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

Hey Patrick, were you and your girl on Exchange street earlier today(Sunday)? Thought it was you.

Gaucho's on Commercial street closed less than a week ago and Leased signs are already on the window. Incredible how fast spots can be swept up here. Says a lot about the strength of our local economy. That has to be an expensive location.
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Old 12-04-2011, 07:15 PM   #1402
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

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Hey Patrick, were you and your girl on Exchange street earlier today(Sunday)? Thought it was you.

Gaucho's on Commercial street closed less than a week ago and Leased signs are already on the window. Incredible how fast spots can be swept up here. Says a lot about the strength of our local economy. That has to be an expensive location.
Yep, we were. One of these days, you will have to step out of t
he shadows and introduce yourself.

Gauchos had a pretty good happy hour plate of meat for only $5...but otherwise didn't like the place (not the food, just the way it was run).
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Old 12-06-2011, 03:21 PM   #1403
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

Maritime businesses face eviction from Portland waterfront; Maine Wharf owner plans improvements, development
By Randy Billings
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Dec 06, 2011 9:00 am
Photo: Randy Billings / The Forecaster
Stuart Norton, of Three Sons Lobster & Fish, is the owner of one of three businesses being evicted from Maine Wharf. He said he fears his company might not find another place on the Portland waterfront.


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Photo: Randy Billings / The Forecaster
Three businesses are being evicted from Maine Wharf in Portland, where the owners want to correct structural problems and redevelop the pier.


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72 Commercial St., Portland, Maine

PORTLAND — Stuart Norton has been operating Three Sons Lobster & Fish on Maine Wharf for more than 10 years.

Norton said his business has grown, due in large part to its location on the wharf behind Ri Ra Irish Pub and the Dry Dock Restaurant.

That area of Commercial Street is heavily travelled by tourists – especially cruise ship passengers, who are frequently attracted by Three Sons' costumed dancing lobster on the sidewalk.*

But instead of figuring out how to continue to expand, Norton and two other Maine Wharf business owners are scrambling to find new places for their businesses.

Last month, Three Sons, Chase Leavitt & Co. and Fresh Atlantic were served with eviction notices by their landlord, Great Maine Wharf LLC.

The letter said, "For safety reasons, you must vacate the building where your business is located, effective immediately."

The landlord, who is no longer collecting rent from the businesses, did not specify a deadline for the businesses to leave or whether they would be welcomed back when and if repairs are made.

For Norton, the notice was a shock, especially since he said he had been offered a five-year lease in September. Now he said he fears that he will come to work one day and not be able to get into the building, which is beginning to buckle.

"This just came out of the blue," he said. "I don't know what their plans are. We haven't been told."

Maine Wharf is currently for sale, with an asking price of nearly $3.9 million. It has long been eyed for an upscale hotel.

Eric Cianchette, who owns that wharf, said he is seeking a permit to rebuild the pier, including a 150-foot extension approved by the city last year.*

Cianchette said there have been some interested buyers, but the property is not under contract. Inspections from engineers have revealed structural problems, he said, including a broken beam or piling.

Cianchette said this is the first development proposal under the city's new Waterfront Central Zoning rules, so it's too early to say what the proposal would include, besides upper-level office space, or who would develop it.

"Instead of us interpreting (the city's) new law, we want (the city) to tell us their vision," he said.

The new law established a Non-Marine Use Overlay Zone for non-marine developments, with the exception of residences, within 150 feet of Commercial Street. It expanded permitted uses to include restaurants and retail stores.

Outside of the overlay zone, pier owners may lease up to 45 percent of their first-floor space to non-marine uses, but only after aggressively and unsuccessfully marketing that space to marine uses.

The new rules were designed to prevent the displacement of the working waterfront businesses.

Cianchette, who previously wanted to build a luxury hotel on the pier, said he is taking a wait-and-see approach about whether the city's new leadership will be easy to work with.

"There's a whole new regime (at City Hall)," he said. "So, we'll see."

Jonathan Leavitt, of Chase Leavitt, said he was never given a deadline to leave, and Cianchette, who does not directly manage the tenants, couldn't provide a deadline, either.

But Leavitt said he hopes his company, a ship and import/export agency, will have enough time to negotiate a lease for more space at a marine complex near Ocean Gateway.

Leavitt said the new space, which he declined to identify, would be better for his business because it offers more parking.

"We're looking at this like it's a good thing," he said.

That offers little comfort to Norton, whose business at times employs seven people and relies on having direct waterfront access.

"I don't know what I'm going to do," he said. "There's nothing available on the waterfront. It's all being changed to office space."

Norton said he is worried the eviction spells the end of his business.

But with 20 percent of his annual business, which includes supplying local restaurants, coming in the month of December, Norton said he is taking things one day at a time.

"Right now, I'm just concentrating on the holiday," he said. "We can't just give up."

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @randybillings



•••• an article that appeared in The Forecaster, which discusses future development on the waterfront
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Old 12-06-2011, 07:48 PM   #1404
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

that's not a biased title in terms of protectionist zoning now is it? I support local industry but not too much tinkering with the market. Yes, I know this isn't the only instance of such tinkering.
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Old 12-08-2011, 12:10 AM   #1405
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

Heard today that the Portland Co. land is under contract. That site has been marketed aggressively on and off again for a while and has some decent potential if the surrounding neighborhood fills in appropriately. May not be tied to any development plans, could just be a purchase as investment.
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Old 12-08-2011, 07:59 AM   #1406
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

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Heard today that the Portland Co. land is under contract. That site has been marketed aggressively on and off again for a while and has some decent potential if the surrounding neighborhood fills in appropriately. May not be tied to any development plans, could just be a purchase as investment.
That goes in hand with the news last summer that the Narrow Gauge RR is looking for a new place to move to.
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:27 AM   #1407
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

Several years ago the site was considered for what the developer described as an "extension of the old port." that was prior to any of the new development in the area. It spoke of adaptive re-use of the buildings and adding some new mixed use components. Boulos co has a rendering on file for marketing but looks like has now been sold. If i remember correctly, the site has one thousand linear feet of ocean frontage.

The narrow guage rr---cant blame them for leaving. The city should have been more receptive of spragues light rail plan in 2005 before the bayside trail came along. Would have been peninsular loop. Excuse brevity am posting on phone.
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Old 12-09-2011, 06:25 AM   #1408
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

Are you still on the Parks Commission, Patrick? Saw this story in the PPH today about adding resurfacing the bottom of Deering Oaks Pond. I vaguely recall seeing paddle boats in the pond when I was a kid and think those would be fun to bring back. The article also notes a proposal to expand Evergreen Cemetery and restore some fencing and walkways in Lincoln Park. On the topic of Lincoln Park, I have long desired to see it embraced as a functioning public space, (despite being next to a mini-highway and a sea of parking) and with events like the Picnic Arts & Music Festival and Occupy Maine I am glad to see it getting some regular use. Long before Occupy Maine moved in it was in need of new walkways and some sprucing up. I hope they tackle the project at some point.
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Old 12-10-2011, 08:20 PM   #1409
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

Not sure if something is going to be built here or if they are just going to expand the existing parking lot, but the abandoned old building at corner by the corner of Pine and Brackett Streets is being demolished. The building was featured in The Bollard's "That's My Dump" in 2007.

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Old 12-10-2011, 08:41 PM   #1410
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

Ah, what an historic treasure!
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Old 12-11-2011, 04:03 PM   #1411
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

Hi Corey -- to answer your question above I am not on the parks commission anymore. I tried to attend beginning in early 2010, but there were delays, they never met, then meetings were canceled because of snow, then they take the summer off. Then when they started back up again in the fall I had class every evening, which continued throughout the spring (and over winter break they never met because of storms or whatever reason). I think I've been three times. I still get emails. I asked whether I should step down but was told to wait and see because they wanted someone with my experience on the commission, and would be willing to wait until my schedule changed. If it doesn't they will reassess, but right now I am not attending though technically on the commission. I may once I finish school, this semester.
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Old 12-12-2011, 12:50 AM   #1412
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

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I love the banners, really adds some character to an already beautiful building. They were stocking shelves today and will be opening really soon.



Uggh, I have majorly mixed feelings about an Urban Outfitters opening up in this space. On the one hand it's far better to have buildings occupied than unoccupied, and chain stores tend to have a financial stability that boutiques do not, so they are good tenants. On the other hand, chain stores contribute greatly to the homogenization of places. I think I've seen an Urban Outfitters in just about every city I've been in the last few years. And the real irony about this store is that there's nothing truly "urban" about it; it presents a sort of faux-urban hipster image while hawking $35 novelty t-shirts and $80 skinny jeans. For a long time their stores had "cracked glass" on at least one storefront panel to lend to the air of urban edginess.

Again, I'll take an occupied storefront over an empty one any day, but DAMN, does every city have to have the same stores as every other city? What's the point in going anywhere else? I was equally bummed out to see Five Guys take up that huge storefront down on Fore Street. I realize Five Guys is new to Maine, but here in DC they're as ubiquitous as McDonald's. If a Gap Kids opens on Exchange Street I actually will cry.

By the way when I lived in Portland in the late 90s this building was a concert space for awhile. I remember seeing the Lemonheads, Liz Phair and maybe Dinosaur Jr there. I don't remember if it was called the Pavilion or something else back then, but it wasn't a great space for live music. The cavernous walls created a ton of unwanted reverb. By far the best sound system in town was at Stone Coast, but that place had shut down by the time I left, too.
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Old 12-12-2011, 07:55 AM   #1413
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

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Originally Posted by Corey View Post
Not sure if something is going to be built here or if they are just going to expand the existing parking lot, but the abandoned old building at corner by the corner of Pine and Brackett Streets is being demolished. The building was featured in The Bollard's "That's My Dump" in 2007.

That was the Ward Family house, Robert Ward the father, was a Chief in the Coast Guard, he had many children that grew up in the house. I'm sure the land will become a parking lot.
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Old 12-12-2011, 08:23 AM   #1414
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

http://www.thebollard.com/bollard/?p=4088

Here's another Bollard link that may shed some light on the building's demise.
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Old 12-12-2011, 09:08 AM   #1415
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

I think you are right with the retail uses, but at the same time a proper balance is the key.* Five guys is not great, and then there is some really bad looking videogame store that looks like it’s a Game Stop on Exchange now.* The city tried to keep these things out but was prevented by a political and legal mess.* It started with the Hooters bar.* More important than what’s in the buildings is how they look.* Five guys doesn’t fit Fore Street, but in my opinion Urban Outfitters does fit Middle.* I know everyone disagrees, and Im certainly not saying UO is the best possible use, but it is certainly preferable to, as you said, an empty space.* Also, it will capture some of the mall market, which is key.* Ideally, I’d like to see every chain in town downtown, like it used to be.* Congress Street used to be the mall before the mall was the mall.* But when the major retailers split, it became what it is today (recently, however, as everyone knows, it has witnessed somewhat of a renaissance).* Local business is good, but so is national business.* The two, if possible, should seamlessly intermingle and mix, but often what you see is one pushing out the other (usually major retail shutting down local business…not cool).* Where that happens, it is unfortunate, but I’m not sure what can be done to prevent it.* In Burlington the two types of retail exist together in near perfect harmony.* They have an underground mall, a borders (closed now I believe), and a GAP right on Church Street.* Then they have little shops like the Old Port, though not nearly as many.* It is still an enjoyable “place” though because of the architecture and urban design of that stretch.* Also, Boston has a Lord & Taylor right next to the unique shops along Boylston and Newbury.* Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.* Its like a soup with ingredients—you need the right mix.* Maybe urban would have gone better in Bayside?* I can envision two shopping districts, one national retailer by the transportation network, the other local boutiques as they are now, in the Old Port, places you actually have to go out of your way to get to.*
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Old 12-12-2011, 09:34 AM   #1416
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

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Uggh, I have majorly mixed feelings about an Urban Outfitters opening up in this space. On the one hand it's far better to have buildings occupied than unoccupied, and chain stores tend to have a financial stability that boutiques do not, so they are good tenants. On the other hand, chain stores contribute greatly to the homogenization of places. I think I've seen an Urban Outfitters in just about every city I've been in the last few years. And the real irony about this store is that there's nothing truly "urban" about it; it presents a sort of faux-urban hipster image while hawking $35 novelty t-shirts and $80 skinny jeans. For a long time their stores had "cracked glass" on at least one storefront panel to lend to the air of urban edginess.

Again, I'll take an occupied storefront over an empty one any day, but DAMN, does every city have to have the same stores as every other city? What's the point in going anywhere else? I was equally bummed out to see Five Guys take up that huge storefront down on Fore Street. I realize Five Guys is new to Maine, but here in DC they're as ubiquitous as McDonald's. If a Gap Kids opens on Exchange Street I actually will cry.

By the way when I lived in Portland in the late 90s this building was a concert space for awhile. I remember seeing the Lemonheads, Liz Phair and maybe Dinosaur Jr there. I don't remember if it was called the Pavilion or something else back then, but it wasn't a great space for live music. The cavernous walls created a ton of unwanted reverb. By far the best sound system in town was at Stone Coast, but that place had shut down by the time I left, too.
I hear ya about the chain stores. They have the stability, but don't add much character to the local area. However, they are part of our society now, and I think a good balance is fine. But the balance tends to be broken when these big chains run out the more unique and in my opinion better smaller stores.

Five Guys though compared to McD's, um... Five Guys has better Burgers. And they are very new to this area in New England. Even down here in Southern NH and all the way into Mass they are new still, only a few years.

I do though like Dounkin Donuts and Subway type places in downtown areas. Seems to make more sense since they offer food. I don't mind them as much even though there are a lot of them as long as they are not drive-thrus. Many probably disagree with me.
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Old 12-12-2011, 11:41 AM   #1417
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

I don't mind the Urban Outfitters being in Portland. I remember several years ago--probably mid-2000s--the Hippo used UO specifically as an example of the type of retail anchor Manchester should have tried to attract to downtown there.

National retailers and local shops coexisting downtown is nothing new. In Manchester, I know, there used to be several local department stores downtown in addition to Sears, Woolworth's and others. I'm sure the case was the same in Portland. It's a healthy mix. Market Square in Portsmouth and Harvard Square in Cambridge are moving away from this, though in opposite directions, I'd say: Portsmouth becoming increasing local with the Gap moving out, but also increasingly boutique-centric, whereas Harvard is seeing more chains, but perhaps a place where more locals can do regular shopping. I'd put Burlington, at least Church Street itself, on the more chain-heavy side as well. A healthy mix should be somewhere in between, in my opinion.

A strong downtown should feature plenty of boutiques and local specialty shops--the sort of places that lend a unique, local feel--as well as the chains that are too often relegated to malls and the fringe, which help attract regular shoppers. Ideally, people--residents and visitors alike--should be able to buy groceries, books, jeans, a screwdriver and a pack of underwear downtown in addition to high-end clothes, novelty items, decorations, and specialty food.

This is totally anecdotal, but I think local shops and boutiques should outnumber chains by a pretty strong margin, but chains such as Urban Outfitters fill spaces larger than most local specialty shops can or need. They let people do their shopping entirely downtown as opposed to out at the mall, and that brings more people to the small shops.
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Old 12-12-2011, 07:46 PM   #1418
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

Wow ! Really well said Frank LloydMike. I agree a healthy mix of local and chain to help keep shoppers downtown. Why does one have to exist at the expense of the other ? I believe they can benefit each other and again downtown is better for having both.

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Old 12-12-2011, 10:20 PM   #1419
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

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Ideally, people--residents and visitors alike--should be able to buy groceries, books, jeans, a screwdriver and a pack of underwear downtown in addition to high-end clothes, novelty items, decorations, and specialty food.
+1!
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Old 12-12-2011, 10:49 PM   #1420
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

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More important than what’s in the buildings is how they look.* Five guys doesn’t fit Fore Street, but in my opinion Urban Outfitters does fit Middle.
I'll agree that context-sensitive design, in regards to the storefront and signage, can go a long way towards mitigating the homogenizing effects of a chain store. In that sense the Urban Outfitters seems to be doing OK, at least as far as I can tell from that photo. The signage seems pretty subtle, and the flags are lively without being obnoxious.

I'll agree with you that the Five Guys storefront doesn't do anything for the Fore Street streetscape. It's too big for starters - it must have replaced several of the businesses that were there, right? I seem to recall that block having several different small businesses and being sort of set back behind a wrought iron fence.

I'll also agree with the others that a mix of national and local is optimal, although personally I'd prefer more of the latter.
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