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Updated: September 27, 2019

Sun Life will move to new complex on Portland's booming waterfront

Courtesy / Sun Life A rendering of the planned northern New England hub of Sun Life Financial Inc., at the former Portland Co. site on the city's eastern waterfront.

Portland’s eastern waterfront, which has been attracting development like seagulls drawn to a discarded lobster roll, has landed another catch.

Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE: SLF), a group benefits provider with over 500 employees at rented space in Scarborough and South Portland, will be the primary tenant in a 100,000-square-foot office building planned for the former Portland Co. complex, according to a news release Thursday.

Sun Life, based in Toronto, said it has signed a 15-year lease for 77,000 square feet in the four-story building, which is expected to break ground early next year and be complete by mid-2022. The space will accommodate all of Sun Life’s current Maine workforce plus another 200 employees who may be hired over the next several years.

"We are very excited to join the thriving downtown Portland business community," said Dan Fishbein, president of Sun Life’s U.S. division. "As a Maine resident, I'm especially pleased for us to be a part of this sustainably built development.”

The new building at 58 Fore St. will feature retail space on the ground floor, parking for about 700 vehicles in an adjacent garage and surface lot, and prominent signage with the names of Sun Life and its subsidiary FullscopeRMS.

The building is one of the first steps in the multi-phased development of the 10-acre historic site, which dates to 1847 and was originally a foundry that produced hundreds of steam locomotives and ships.

Plans calls for the mixed-use development, dubbed Portland Foreside, to ultimately include a hotel, over 200 units of housing, additional office and retail space, and a 2.5-acre park.

The city approved a master plan for the complex in 2016, although the Portland Historic Preservation Board recently began reviewing plans for relocation of one of seven historic Portland Co. buildings. The first major piece of the development — the 150-slip Fore Points Marina — opened in May.

The Sun Life news comes as work continues just a few blocks away on construction of the 140,000-square-foot headquarters of Covetrus Inc. and an adjoining 73,000-square-foot hotel. Meanwhile, around the corner, workers at WEX Inc. are settling into offices at a 100,000-square-foot building that opened in March.

In January, Mainebiz reported that the four-block area east of Hancock Street and at the foot of Munjoy Hill had seen more than 700,000 square feet of new construction and $256 million in development investment since 2018.

“This is the most development the city has seen since the Great Fire of 1866,” Jeff Levine, then Portland's director of planning and urban development, told Mainebiz.

“When there's this amount of development, people get concerned, but it also allows us to become the city we want to be for the next hundred years.”

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