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December 21, 2018

Brady eyes spring 2021 opening for proposed Portland hotel with rooftop bar

Courtesy / HKS Architects A rendering supplied by Fathom Cos. of the 135-room design-oriented boutique hotel to be located at 1 Center St. in Portland.

Portland developer Jim Brady is eyeing a spring 2021 opening for the city’s first hotel that would feature an indoor-outdoor rooftop bar — overlooking the waterfront yet safely outside the zone that’s temporarily off limits to new projects.

“We’re not caught up in that,” Brady said by phone from Florida as he and his team proceed with the next steps for a 135-room design-oriented boutique hotel to be located at 1 Center St.

The proposal, which has been in the works for more than year, is “finally making some great progress,” said Brady, adding that he expects to submit a so-called Level III site plan and application within coming days.

After that, he said that if they break ground by the the end of next summer, construction would take around 18 months, which would mean opening in spring 2021.

Brady, a 2017 Mainebiz Next honoree, is best known for turning an Art Deco-era newspaper building into Portland’s swanky Press Hotel, part of the Marriott franchise yet true to its heritage with its typewriter displays and other print-era throwbacks.

Brady is president and director of Fathom Cos., a hotel management firm he launched last year with Dennis and Chris Ruppel.

His new hotel would be on the 23,000-foot-square-site of what’s now a parking lot owned by North River IV, close to the proposed hotel and condo complex at the Rufus Deering Lumber Co. site on Commercial Street. A document submitted to a November Historic Preservation workshop by HKS Architects shows that there would be five floors of guest rooms and touts the hotel’s location as resting at the axis of the past, present and future architecture of the Old Port. It would also allow open pedestrian access from Commercial and Center streets.

Brady has yet to unveil the name of his newest venture, temporarily dubbed the Center Street Boutique Hotel, as he and his team negotiate a potential franchise deal.

“We would anticipate doing a franchise with a national brand,” he said, adding that it’s too early to reveal details.

The plan comes amid an ongoing development boom in Maine’s biggest city, much to the ire of fishermen who pressed for the six-month moratorium approved by the city this week.

Asked whether Portland needs even more hotels, Brady said he thinks the city has benefited from increased demand from tourism as well as the business sector.

He also notes that that like the Press Hotel, his next venture would be a well-designed establishment able to differentiate itself from competitors—especially with an outdoor-access rooftop bar.

“We think it does create a unique amenity,” he said, “for not only tourists but also locals.”

Besides Fathom Cos. and HKS Architects, the planning team includes Ealain Studio (an interior design firm that’s new to Portland) as well as Wright-Ryan Construction Inc., Becker Structural Engineers Inc. and Woodard & Curran Inc. for civil engineering.

“We’ve got a pretty big team working on the project already,” Brady said.

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