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Updated: December 4, 2019

INSIDER NOTEBOOK: 58 Fore St. leads big Portland planning workshop Dec. 10

Courtesy / CPB2 LLC A rendering shows what the redevelopment of 58 Fore St. in Portland may look like when it's completed. The planning board is holding a workshop on Phase 1 of the plan Dec. 10.

Three years after the plan was first given preliminary approval, Portland Foreside Development Co.'s proposal for the 58 Fore St. development will begin planning board review at a workshop session Tuesday, Dec. 10.

Phase 1 of the project includes 442,500 square feet of space and a 10-acre, nine-site subdivision, so there's a lot to chew over at the workshop meeting.

But wait, there's more. Also on the agenda are the Longfellow Hotel, planned for 754 Congress St., and the Munjoy Hill Historic District.

The 58 Fore St. project got preliminary board approval Dec. 22, 2016.

The breakdown of what's being reviewed Tuesday:

  • Block 1 – Construction of a Class A office building with ground floor retail and parking deck; reconstruction of Building 12 which was disassembled and will be rebuilt on another spot of the lot and will include a restaurant, office space and two residential units.
  • Block 2 – Renovation of historic core buildings Building 2 and 3 into a local food market, restaurant, office and event space.
  • Block 4 – Construction of a five-level parking garage, with residential units and retail.
  • Construction of a shared street, public plazas and subsurface utilities; adjustment of the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad and the Eastern Promenade Trail, and other infrastructure, utility and access improvements.

Next on the agenda is the the 46-room Longfellow Hotel, which is planned for a West End site that now has a vacant gas station.

The 35,000-square-foot building is being developed by CenterWest LLC and was designed by Archetype Architects, the same team behind the Hotel Francis across the street. The Longfellow will have commercial space on the the first floor facing Congress Street and parking underneath, accessed from Neal Street.

In the third spot on the agenda is the proposed Munjoy Hill Historic District, as well as individual landmark designation for several structures outside the district boundary. The Historic Preservation Board Nov. 20 voted unanimously to recommend the historic designation to the Planning Board and City Council. The board, once it reviews the designation, will also make a recommendation to the council.

HospitalityMaine jumps aboard train movement

The amount of development in the city, particularly on the peninsula, has spurred a movement to for a commuter rail line from Westbrook to the East End of the peninsula, and HospitalityMaine is the latest to jump on board.

The PWR Alliance — Portland West Rail — is a group of businesses and organizations that formed after a feasibility study of a daily commuter rail along 5.8 miles of track from downtown Westbrook to downtown Portland. The study was prepared for the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority by South Portland engineering and planning firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin. 

Steve Hewins, CEO of HospitalityMaine said in a news release, "All top visitor destinations have a strong transit system. For the Portland region to continue as a leader, we need to invest now in ways to transport more visitors and residents into and out of the city without private vehicles. Limited parking, traffic congestion, a shortage of downtown housing are all factors that could derail Portland’s still growing hospitality industry."

HospitalityMaine represents more than 1,000 members in the state's food and lodging industries.

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Winthrop Street in Augusta, a mix of residential and business, most of it in 19th century houses, may be rezoned into a professional zone that limits what businesses can locate there.

Around the horn

In Augusta, the planning board is considering rezoning a portion of stately Winthrop Street from institute/business/professional and creating a new Westside Professional District. A public hearing scheduled for Tuesday night was postponed to Dec. 17 because of the storm.

The new zone would aim to maintain the character of one of Augusta's most historic neighborhoods by limiting development and high-impact businesses. The original request was to rezone it to medium density residential — it's surrounded on three sides by that zone.

At a public hearing in August, residents said the tipping point came when a business paved its lawn for parking. But also at the hearing, there was also concern that longtime businesses and organizations —  like the Kennebec Historical Society — that wouldn't conform to the residential zone would be hurt.

Attorney Jed Davis, who's had an office in the area in question since 1977, was among those who suggested new zoning that wouldn't be as extensive as what's there now, but would allow some businesses. He pointed out that the houses are large, hard to maintain and more logically used for business.

A map for the proposed zone shows 12 businesses and 10 residences. Many of the businesses are in large 19 century houses, and some have added parking to the large ribbon of grass that runs between the road and sidewalk.

While the zone is only six blocks long — from 58 Winthrop to 107 — it's an anchor of the Capital City's historic core. Lithgow Public Library is just east of the zone line, and the Kennebec County court complex, including the 1802 superior courthouse, are on State Street, a block away.

Also in Augusta, the Raging Bull Saloon will hold a grand opening today at 3 p.m. at 228 Water St. The bar is owned by Brad Wallace and Ryan Larochelle, of the band Duke.

It's the latest new business to open downtown, but also the third bar/restaurant in that space in the last few years. The building, once Chernowksy's department store, is owned by Richard Parkhurst. It was most recently wine bar Circa 1885, which closed in July after two years, and before that, Charlamagne's Bar & Lounge. Hallowell broker Chris Vallee, representing Wallace and Larochelle, is also one of the partners in the bar.

Continuing the hot pace of new downtown business, Tobias Parkhurst and Shawn McLaughlin will soon open State Lunch Craft & Kitchen at 217 Water St.

In Oakland, which is working to revitalize its downtown, Candy Hollow moved out of an 800-square-foot building at 47 Main St. across the street into 2,000 square feet at 54 Main St. The building is owned by Danielle and Matt Marquis, who own the Higgins & Bolduc Agency, and Lydia Stevens owns the candy store.

The store's expansion "occurs amidst several planning initiatives in downtown Oakland," said Garvan Donegan, director of planning and economic development at Central Maine Growth Council, in a news release. The town’s recent comprehensive planning process has highlighted the potential for increased opportunities downtown, and the Oakland Broadband & Technology Committee is drafting recommendations to extend high-speed internet along Main Street, he said.

“The community has coalesced around a vision of enhancing its downtown and unique lakeside small-town charm while offering sophisticated business development amenities, and Candy Hollow’s expansion reflects the ongoing realization of that vision," Donegan said.

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