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January 21, 2019

A Look Back: MECA relocation helps revitalize downtown Portland

Downtown redevelopment was as much a part of the discussion in 1994 as it is now, if the first issue of Mainebiz is an indication.

From the December 1994 issue:

"A $1 million loan, made by the city of Portland and the Downtown Portland Corp., through the Development Action Loan program, will facilitate renovation of the former Porteous building and the relocation of Maine College of Art to Congress Street. Restoration of the 150,000-square-foot building is crucial to the successful revitalization of the Downtown Arts District. Ninety staff, 300 full-time and 1,200 continuing studies students will liven up the heart of downtown. The total investment in the Porteous building will be $8.9 million."

MECA followed through on its promise to renovate the building, named for the Porteous, Mitchell & Braun department store, at 522 Congress St. For its renovation, in 2013 MECA won the "Preservation Award" from Greater Portland Landmarks.

Fun fact: 25 years ago, Maine's per-capita income was $18,775, lowest of the six New England states, and lower than the U.S. average of $20,781.

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