Landmark building in downtown Portland ‘buckles,’ prompts closure of major arterial

Pedestrians gawk at the Congress Street Building, also known as the State Theatre Building, in Downtown Portland on Sunday after the west-facing facade buckled for unknown reasons, sending debris falling to the sidewalk below.
Courtesy Michelle Souliere
Pedestrians gawk at the Congress Street Building, also known as the State Theatre Building, in Downtown Portland on Sunday after the west-facing facade buckled for unknown reasons, sending debris falling to the sidewalk below.
By Mario Moretto, BDN Staff
Posted June 09, 2013, at 2:51 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — A one-block section of High Street will be closed until further notice after a six-story brick building at the intersection of Congress Street “buckled,” sending bricks and other debris falling onto the sidewalk below.

Nicole Clegg, a spokeswoman for the city, said a police officer Sunday morning noticed that the western facade of 142 High Street, facing the Eastland Park Hotel, had bowed out between the fifth and sixth floors. While business tenants on that side of the building have evacuated, Clegg said the damage has not affected residents who live on the other side.

“The building is structurally sound,” she said Sunday. “The issue is the facade. So people on the other side of the building, not facing High Street, they’re OK.”

Clegg said the cause of the building’s exterior giving way is unknown at this time. High Street from Congress to Deering will be closed to traffic, at least through tomorrow. That will likely cause headaches for many commuters, she said.

“It’s one of our major arterials, especially if you’re coming across the Casco Bay Bridge and headed to I-295,” she said. “If people can plan ahead and find an alternate route, that would be good.”

The building is the size of a city block and commonly known as the State Theatre Building, though that title isn’t entirely accurate, said Lauren Wayne, General Manager at the venue.

“It’s the same city block building, but we’re separated by a two-hour fire wall,” she said Sunday. “The State Theatre is kind of a building inside a building.”

Tonight’s sold out Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes concert at the State Theatre, will go on as planned, Wayne said, though showtime and doors opening have been pushed back by an hour because the High Street closure has affected the venue’s ability to load and unload equipment.

Doors will open at 8 p.m. and the show will begin at 9 p.m.

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/06/09/news/landmark-building-in-downtown-portland-buckles-prompts-closure-of-major-arterial/ printed on November 22, 2014