Portland eastern waterfront project continues, minus a partner

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PORTLAND — Developers of the former Portland Co. property on the eastern waterfront said their plans are intact, even though one financial partner has dropped out.

“We have a couple of different projects in the works. You can expect to see site plan applications in the summer and fall,” developer Casey Prentice said July 11 about what is now called Portland Foreside.

Phased construction is moving ahead without partner James Brady, who helped steer the zoning change that allowed the project, and then the master planning process with the city Planning Board.

On July 20, Brady said he sold his shares early this year.

“I was happy to have been involved in a great project and shepherd it through the process,” Brady said. “I felt very good with what we were able to achieve on the site.”

Brady, who developed the Press Hotel on Congress Street and is renovating the retail and office space at 80 Exchange St., declined to reveal how much he received for his shares.

Prentice and his other partner, Kevin Costello, remain in the venture to convert the 10 acres at 58 Fore St. into a mixed-use development including housing, retail, a hotel and a marina.

“The project remains positively moving forward as according to plan,” Prentice said.

While the developers prepare site plan applications, the Maine Department of Transportation is seeking bids for construction of a 141-slip marina approved by the Portland Harbor Commission on July 13, 2017.

The marina will be operated by IGY Marinas, Prentice said, which has marinas along the East Coast and in the Caribbean, among other locations. Because construction was funded in part through a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, administered by the Maine Department of Transportation, the state is taking an active role in overseeing the construction.

Bids are due by Aug. 17, and the low bid will win the contract, according to bid information.

“The marina is actually ready to go, it has been under construction since December. It will be coming in pieces, and will be completed in the fall,” Prentice said.

A document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Jan. 19 said Prentice and Costello raised $11.45 million in equity for the project. According to the filing, the Portland Foreside Development Co. is offering a total of $32 million in equity so far for what had been estimated as a $250 million project.

The overall master plan for development was approved by the city Planning Board in December 2016.

First-phase plans call for the renovation of existing buildings on the property, once home to the Portland Co. About a year ago, the partners reached an agreement to have West Elm operate the hotel that is expected to be part of the first phase of development.

West Elm also has a retail store selling furniture, lighting and accessories at 164 Middle St. The hotel would be the company’s sixth in the country.

Prentice and Costello bought the property from Phineas Sprague Jr. in 2013. Brady said he joined the development team as the deal was closing, after having had his own interest in buying the property.

The complex, which included a foundry, was originally used to build locomotives, rolling stock and equipment for the Atlantic & St. Lawrence Railroad, which connected the city to Montreal.

In 2015, it was rezoned to allow for the mixed-use development, then much of it became a historic zone requiring approval from the Historic Preservation Board and the Planning Board.

Later that year, the property was the target of a failed referendum question that would have changed the new zoning and its baseline building height measurements to prevent new construction from blocking waterfront views.

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

The development team for the former Portland Co. complex at 58 Fore St. has changed, but partner Casey Prentice said plans remain the same and are moving forward.

An overview of planned development at Portland Foreside, with a marina, retail and hotel elements to be completed first, followed by housing.

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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.