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August 28, 2018

Shucks Maine Lobster proposing seafood hub near Portland Fish Pier

John Hathaway, owner of Shucks Maine Lobster, is seeking a 30-year lease on a vacant city-owned lot on Commercial Street, to build a 16,000-square-foot multi-use "Maine Sustainable Seafood Center."

Hathaway, who is now sole owner of Maine Sustainable Seafood, which is proposing to develop the vacant Lot 1, met Monday with the Portland Fish Pier Authority's board of directors to go over his plans.

In supporting documents available on the city's website, Hathaway described the Maine Sustainable Seafood Center as a "multi-faceted commercial attraction to showcase Portland's working waterfront. Approximately 80 jobs would be created by the various commercial enterprises planned for the center.

"The Maine Sustainable Seafood Center is, at its core, a seafood processing and industry business designed to serve Maine's seafood economy and help the fishing community to connect with the visitors who come to Maine to eat seafood but have no point of access to learn about the men and women who provide the catch," the proposal stated.

Hathaway's proposal stated that Shucks Maine Lobster would occupy 7,000 square feet of the first floor of the proposed facility and would employ 40 workers. It would utilize the innovative food processing technology called High Pressure Processing to loosen raw lobster meat from the shell — which, according to the company's website, produces "lobster products that are easier to use, less messy, higher quality, and more versatile than existing alternatives."

Shucks plans to process more than four million pounds of Maine lobster annually at the facility, to be sold in markets throughout the world. It also would use "state of the art methods to utilize the lobster shell waste for the production of commercially viable products."

A separate 2,400 square feet of first-floor space would become a restaurant offering "locally sourced Maine seafood simply prepared with a creative flare, catering to Portland's reputation as a 'foodie' destination," the proposal stated. The restaurant is expected to create between 30 and 35 new jobs in Portland.

On the second floor, the proposal stated that 3,000 square feet would be devoted to a "working waterfront heritage center" featuring historic and educational exhibits involving "a curated collection of artwork, photos and objects.

Other second-floor components envisioned include a "coastal culinary academy and R&D kitchen" and a heritage display that Hathaway said The Island Institute has expressed interest in helping his company put together. The second-floor businesses and activities are projected to create approximately 12 jobs.

Bristol Seafood also interested

The Portland Press Herald reported that at least one other seafood business — Bristol Seafood, an existing fish pier tenant — also has notified the city of its interest in the vacant Commercial Street lot.

"We are in growth mode and looking at expansion at the pier," Jennifer Cyr, vice president of finance for the company, told the board, according to the Press Herald.

The newspaper reported that Hathaway's expansion plans to build a 28,000 square foot processing facility in Gorham — which were approved by the town's planning board in June 2017 — had been put on hold as he pursues his Portland waterfront proposal.

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