Portland Bayside development continues with purchase of former Century Tire property

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PORTLAND — A developer expects the former Century Tire service center at 45 Marginal Way to be flattened within the next two weeks.

“Our demo guys are ready to roll,” Northland Enterprises principal Josh Benthien said May 1, two days after the announcement his company bought the property and three adjacent parcels on Marginal Way and Kennebec Street.

Benthien did not disclose how much Northland paid for the properties, which were sold by Atlantic Bayside Investments.

“There is a lot going on here in the next five years, and to be part of it is exciting,” he said.

Century Tire, which closed in February 2014 after company President Dick Aronson decided to retire, will become home to a Chipotle restaurant and T-Mobile store, which are expected to open “very early in 2016,” according to the Northland press release.

“We will fill out the rest of the space with high-quality local and national retail tenants,” Benthien said.

The future of 1 Marginal Way, the current site of Enterprise Rent-A-Car and A Space for Grace; and 200 and 202 Kennebec St., are a little less clear. Benthien said time and city parking regulations will play a role the development of those properties.

The immediate plans had called for the building at 202 Kennebec to be torn down and replaced with a similar structure that could be studio space for artisans or crafters. Benthien said he has heard from three interested parties who would like to use the space.

However, his commitment to extend the Bayside Trail through the area might mean a loss of on-street parking on Kennebec Street. Benthien said he is continuing to work with city staff on whether enough room remains to meet parking regulations.

The building at 202 Kennebec is used as a wash bay by Enterprise and a martial arts school, and may remain so. The last phase of development would come at 1 Marginal Way, Benthien said, but could be five or six years away and contingent on how the rest of the Bayside area develops.

“This gives us the time to see what is the right step going forward,” he said.

The sites may require some remediation for contaminated soils, but Benthien also said the former Century Tire site will be elevated a foot to account for the potential of rising water levels in Back Cove.

A large source of contamination revealed in samples is ash that Benthien said was dumped at the site after the fire in 1866 that consumed much of Portland’s downtown.

Upcoming projects in Bayside include the Midtown complex of four housing and retail buildings on Somerset Street, which gained full Planning Board approval in March.

On April 14, the Planning Board gave a positive recommendation on zoning revisions that would allow developer David Tuliappe to build a three-story office building on the current site of a car wash at 10 Marginal Way, across the street from the properties now owned by Northland.

Other Northland projects include the redevelopment of the former Baxter Library at 619 Congress St. and the former Sanford Mill on Washington Street in Sanford. The projects were funded in part through tax credits made available to restore historic properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“These are not buildings where we can really do that,” Benthien said of the Bayside properties.

The Century Plaza project will more resemble the development of the former Kennebec Journal building in Augusta, he said, where the 70,000-square-foot building was torn down and replaced in 2011 by a bank and Goodwill Industries store.

The extended time-line for development still feeds on the more immediate future of the former Century Tire, Benthien said.

“There are multiple phases of development we can do here, and if we do Phase 1 correctly, it kind of feeds on itself,” he said.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Sidebar Elements

Northland Enterprises principal Josh Benthien said May 1 the former Century Tire service center at 45 Marginal Way, Portland, is expected to be demolished within two weeks and replaced by a retail complex by “very early” 2016. The car wash across the street may soon become a three-story bank and office building.

A preliminary sketch of planned development at the former Century Tire service center at 45 Marginal Way, Portland, which calls for a Chipotle restaurant and T-Mobile store.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.