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Updated: July 20, 2023

Portland Foreside developer plans retail, residences, luxury hotel on city's East End

Rendering Rendering / Courtesy Portland Foreside Development Co. The next phase of Portland Foreside Development Co.'s mixed-use plan envisions retail and restaurants, shown here.
Rendering Rendering / Courtesy Portland Foreside Development Co. The mixed-use development envisions a new, walkable waterfront neighborhood.
Rendering Rendering / Courtesy Portland Foreside Development Co. The next phase of development is for 966,644 square feet of space.

The development company behind Portland's new Sun Life building on the city's East End is planning retail, residences and a 128-room luxury hotel in the next phase of the mixed-use waterfront neighborhood. 

Covering 966,644 square feet, the plan calls for 444 residential units; 52,916 square feet of retail, service and restaurant space 644 off-street parking spaces and a luxury hotel that Portland Foreside Development Co.  Managing Partner Casey Prentice says will be independent. Planned amenities include public open spaces and waterfront walkways.

File Photo / Tim Greenway
Casey Prentice

"People often question why there are so many hotels in Portland, but Portland as a market is actually in the bottom third of hotel rooms in the country," he told Mainebiz. "If you look at the total number of rooms, it's still quite low, and in the summertime there's enormous demand."

He also noted that while there are many solid hotels in Maine's largest city, "there's still plenty of room" in the luxury segment. Already active in the sector, the Prentice Group owns the Chebeague Island Inn and Evo Kitchen + Bar, a catering company called 58 Culinary, and Twelve restaurant, part of the Portland Foreside mixed-use development along with Fore Points Marina.

The next phase of the Portland Foreside project, which Prentice estimated would cost between $600 million and $700 million, is currently going through Portland Planning Board approval, with the next workshop scheduled for Aug. 8. After that, Prentice expects to start working with the city's Permitting & Inspections Department.

Companies working on the project include engineering firm Woodard & Curran Inc.; Michael Boucher Landscape Architecture, of Freeport; New York-based Turner Construction Co; Penobscot General Contractors, of Falmouth; and three architecture firms. They are Boston-based Perkins & Will, New York-based Marvel, and Baskervill in  Richmond, Va., whose project portfolio includes the Canopy Portland Waterfront Hotel.

Prentice said the decision to work with three architecture firms was a strategic one, to ensure variety on the site that's on a scale appropriate for Portland rather than coming across as a behemoth of a building site. 

Construction timeline 

Assuming the city approves the site plan, the goal is to start construction this November and finish by 2026, Prentice said.

"Our primary goal is to get the parking to come online as soon as we can, so we can service the site, Sun Life included," he noted.

On the residential side, the proposed development includes a row of townhouses along Fore Street and apartments for rent above the proposed parking garage, as well as a 10-story building with 154 condominium units. The condo building would also include 9,108 square feet of retail, service and restaurant space, and 166 parking spaces.

"Portland is desperate for housing, and apartments have been really challenging for developers to build," Prentice said. "There are market forces at work." By working in an Opportunity Zone, a designation and investment program giving tax advantages to investments in lower income areas, there's an incentive to build and stay as an owner for a minimum of 10 years, he explained.

"Our outlook on development is to build high quality assets and to hold," he said. "When you look at the longer-term investment horizon, apartments start to make sense."

The emerging neighborhood is being called Portland Foreside, which Prentice likes as a geographic description.

"It was kind of logical," he said, "We didn't want to be a branded thing, just a part of a town that people refer to as Portland Foreside."

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