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‘One-of-a-kind performing arts tenant’ touted as Red Claws’ neighbor at Portland development

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‘One-of-a-kind performing arts tenant’ touted as Red Claws’ neighbor at Portland development

PORTLAND — A “one-of-a-kind performing arts tenant” will be unveiled today as the newest likely occupant of a long-awaited $105-million development on Portland’s Thompson’s Point, according to a city announcement late Wednesday afternoon.

The Forefront at Thompson’s Point has been proposed for the 28-acre property near the Portland Transportation Center. Developers have planned a 3,500-seat event center that will eventually serve as the new home for the Maine Red Claws professional basketball team, a parking garage, hotel, restaurant and office buildings.

Confirmation of a tenant to join the Red Claws in the ambitious complex would represent significant news for the project, which has appeared from the outside to have been in a holding pattern since it received Planning Board approval in early June 2012.

Few hints were available about who might be signing on as a tenant Thursday afternoon. An invitation to the unveiling stated only that “special guests attending the announcement will provide a spectacular sight,” suggesting that the performing arts tenant in question may put on a show to coincide with the business of the day.

Earlier this month, a real estate broker involved with the sale of the site said a tenant has also been lined up for one of the office buildings – a 175,00-square-foot structure – in the project, but he declined to identify the tenant by name.

In late June of this year, Portland Planning Director Alex Jaegerman informed members of the city Planning Board that the project would be scaled back somewhat, with construction of the event center pushed to the end of the first phase, as well as the substitution of a proposed 120,000-square-foot office building with the renovation of an existing 33,000-square-foot former rail-era building.

Additionally, Jaegerman wrote at the time, the developers will drop plans to build a concert hall in Phase 2 of the project, proposing to add another 75,000-square-foot office building to the mix instead.

Thompson’s Point has been touted by city officials as a key development location in the city because of its proximity to the city’s Amtrak Downeaster station and the Portland International Jetport, as well as its high-visibility spot overlooking the Fore River and incoming travelers on Interstate 295.

In June 2011, the city approved a 31-year, $30 million tax break for the project. The city estimates the project will create 455 jobs.

The Economic Development Administration in September 2012 gave Portland a $1.5 million grant to help redevelop Thompson’s Point. The funds will help the city improve highway access, roadways, traffic management, safety and stormwater control.

BDN Business Editor Whit Richardson contributed to this report.