PORTLAND, Maine — A 180,000-square-foot mixed use condominium and retail project, promising to complete the redevelopment of Portland’s long vacant Jordan’s Meats factory property, was given approval by city officials Tuesday night.
Phase I of the reclamation of the old factory lot involved the construction of a Hampton Inn, Sebago Brewing Co. restaurant and Portside condominiums. The $18 million Phase II project located on about an acre of land at 203 Fore St., which was unanimously approved Tuesday night by the Portland Planning Board, seeks to complement the first phase with street-level retail, offices and 18 additional condominium units.
“You did an excellent job on Phase I, and I hope Phase II is just as successful,” Planning Board member David Silk told Mark Wolgom, representing developer Opechee Construction Corp., Tuesday night. “It adds a lot of life to an area where the city has been hoping to add life for a while.”
The redevelopment of the former Jordan’s Meats plant has been credited with helping turn around a section of the city that had fallen on hard times, and is now one of several high-profile projects in the works for Portland’s India Street area.
The City Council last week approved $650,000 in tax breaks for both the Opechee project and another one proposed for nearby, the so-called Bay House project on the India Street site of the former Village Cafe restaurant. Bay House is proposed to include 94 market-rate apartments, a parking garage and more retail space.
Additionally, The Bollard reported that billionaire hedge fund manager S. Donald Sussman has bought up several old residential buildings and a former tobacco warehouse in a nearby neighborhood including — but not limited to — India, Congress, Middle and Hampshire streets, with reported hopes of ultimately revitalizing the area.
The Opechee Phase II project would include an internal parking garage — with 115 spaces accessible from Fore Street and 63 more accessible from Middle Street — manned by a valet service for condominium residences and office occupants.
Before approving the project Tuesday night, the Planning Board agreed to a slate of zoning waivers, most of which were requested to accommodate more compact internal parking — allowing 7-foot-4-inch-wide spaces instead of the city minimum 8-foot-wide spaces, and a greater number of small spaces than is typically allowed, for instance.
The shorthanded board voted 4-0 to approve the requested waivers, convinced that because the internal parking would be exclusively navigated by valet drivers, the tighter confines would not be as dangerous as they would be in a publicly accessible parking garage. Absent Tuesday from the meeting were board members Stuart O’Brien, Joe Lewis and Patrick Venne.
“I think it’s an excellent project,” said Planning Board member Timothy Dean. “It’s a great use of this lot.”