Portland brewery owner, partner uncap commercial, residential projects

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PORTLAND — The owner of Shipyard Brewing Co. is partnering with a local developer to build $18.4 million in commercial and residential development near the eastern waterfront.

Fred Forsley of Shipyard and developer Nathan Bateman were joined by city Economic Development Director Greg Mitchell Monday at the 86 Newbury St. brewery to announce the projects.

“This is an exciting day for me because it is a vision we had from day one,” said Forsley, who opened the brewery 21 years ago.

At 185 Fore St., work has started on a $6.9 million, eight-unit condominium project, with half the units already sold, they said. The building is expected to be ready for occupancy by Sept. 1, 2016.

The first floor will be occupied by Nine Stones Spa, which is now at 250 Commercial St.

A block away, at 16 Middle St., Forsley and Bateman are collaborating to build 50,000 square feet of retail and office space in a five-story building. Construction is expected to begin April 1, 2016, and be completed by March 2017.

Bateman said the building has already drawn interest from 10 businesses.

The announcement was also an endorsement of the city’s use of tax increment finance zones to spur development. A TIF allows a developer or owner to recapture a percentage of the increased tax valuation created by development.

Forsley and Bateman attributed the new development to successful prior city TIFs. Forsley said he recaptured 90 percent of the increased valuation for the brewery’s first five years, then 50 percent for five years after that.

The 10-year brewery TIF expired about a decade ago, and Forsley noted Shipyard now pays $100,000 in property taxes to the city while employing about 100 people.

A TIF with a 15-year term allowed construction of the Ocean Gateway parking garage at 167 Fore St., a development Forsley said led to construction of the Residence Inn across the street at 145 Fore St. 

The new projects presented Monday are being built without TIF financing. Both have been approved by the Planning Board, and will be adjacent to the garage. 

“It is nice when the ground is broken because the projects become real,” Mitchell said. “This area was in desperate need of public/private partnerships.”

Mitchell estimated the commercial vacancy rate on the peninsula is 8 percent and decreasing, and expects the new office space to help meet demands for workers who prefer “an urban experience.”

Bateman said the development plans are a decade old, but were halted by the recession in 2008. Forsley said his vision for redeveloping the area dates to when he bought the former mill and set up the brewery.

“What we are hoping for is a vibrant downtown all year round,” he said.

Work has started on an eight-condo housing project at 185 Fore St., seen Monday, Nov. 16. Occupancy is expected by Sept. 1, 2016.

Four of the eight condominiums that will be built at 185 Fore St. have been sold. The first floor will have retail space.

Shipyard Brewery founder Fred Forsley speaks about two construction projects Monday as developer Nathan Bateman, left, and city Economic Development Director Greg Mitchell listen at the brewery.

A five-story office building is expected to be completed by March 2017 on this lot at 16 Middle St. in Portland.

Plans presented Monday show the five-story office building to be constructed at 16 Middle St.

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.