Portland's Press Hotel pushing to meet completion deadline

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PORTLAND — In a building where deadlines were once the norm, developer Jim Brady on March 27 said workers are hustling to finish the new Press Hotel at 390 Congress St.

“We are working seven days a week,” he said as he led a tour of the 110-room, seven-story hotel that was once home to the Portland Press Herald newspaper.

Brady said the goal is to open by the end of the month, with a ribbon cutting planned for mid-May. On March 16, the City Council approved operating licenses including ones for dining, dancing and outdoor dining.

From actual headlines printed on hallway walls to art depicting artifacts from the printing trade, a lounge called The Inkwell and a vintage scale in the fitness room, the hotel will pay homage to its roots.

It will also offer amenities far exceeding those of any news room, capped by a 1,200-square-foot penthouse with a fireplace and a rooftop patio offering views of the city, harbor and beyond.

According to city tax records, Brady bought the building in January 2014 for $4 million. He said he bought it from developer John Cacoulidis, who had planned an office building.

“He basically gutted the building,” Brady said of the estimated $10 million project. “We had a pretty clean slate to start with.”

The building is more than 90 years old, and was the newspaper’s home until 2010.

The hotel fills an elongated block bounded by Congress, Exchange, Federal and Market streets, and the lobby entrance will be on Exchange Street. Guests checking in will view art comprised of various typefaces – seen backwards, as they would be on a press.

M.C. Union, a restaurant featuring chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, will be off the lobby toward a second entrance from Congress Street. Both chefs have won the Best Chef award from the James Beard Foundation for their work at Arrows in Ogunquit.

City councilors are also reviewing plans for a “pop-up park” on Federal Street to accompany outdoor food service on Exchange Street.

By Monday, Brady expected finishing touches to be made on second-floor rooms and suites. Bedding had been delivered and draperies were being installed, with carpeting soon to follow.

The flooring for M.C. Union was being added as he led the tour. Throughout the work, he said he has been present to sweat details like finding the right kind of shower-stall glass.

“A lot of little coordination issues drove me crazy,” Brady admitted.

Wright-Ryan Construction is the project contractor, and the Press Hotel will be managed as part of the Marriott Autograph Collection. About 70 people are expected to staff the hotel, Brady estimates.

Some rooms and suites will also be interconnected, he said, allowing more space for families to stay.

The journalism theme abounds, with conference rooms in the basement and first floor named for copy and editing offices. Strips of newsprint cover walls in one meeting room.

The hotel will also feature local art and installation projects made by instructors from the Maine College of Art. Included in the exhibitions is a collection of vintage typewriters.

Onsite parking is not available, but the entrance on Exchange Street has an unloading zone. Valet parking to the Temple Street garage and other nearby lots will be available.

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

Sidebar Elements


“We had a pretty clean slate to start with,” developer Jim Brady said March 27 about converting the former Portland Press Herald building at 390 Congress St. to a 110-room hotel, expected to open by early May.

A seventh-floor, 1,200-square-foot penthouse suite at the Portland Press Hotel also has a rooftop patio overlooking the city and harbor.

Developer Jim Brady shows strips of newsprint incorporated into conference room walls March 27 during a tour of the Portland Press Hotel at 390 Congress St. The 110-room hotel incorporates journalistic elements to celebrate the building’s past as a newspaper office.

A second-floor business suite was close to completion March 27 at the Portland Press Hotel at 390 Congress St. The hotel will feature 110 rooms, some connected to allow more space for families.

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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.