PORTLAND, Maine — Owners of The Portland Co. complex at 58 Fore St. have issued a study contemplating the potential economic impact of the site’s redevelopment if it were done in a manner similar to the city’s Old Port.
The study released Thursday and prepared for developers CPB2 LLC estimates such a project would add about $76 million to the city’s tax base, generating $1.5 million more in annual tax revenues.
The study comes as the project has cleared several early zoning hurdles but still faces local scrutiny from neighbors concerned about how taller buildings on the historic industrial property could affect waterfront views.
The city’s Planning Board has endorsed a rezone of the site that would convert approximately 8 of the 10 acres from Waterfront Special Use Zone to B6 Business Zone, which would allow for taller buildings and residential uses developers seek to make their project more financially viable. On Monday, the City Council is scheduled to consider the rezone proposal.
The rezone faces stiff opposition from a newly formed citizens’ group calling itself Soul of Portland, headed in part by former lawmaker Anne Rand. Soul of Portland members have argued the loss of water views from nearby Munjoy Hill homes would be damaging for the city and that the council should be vigilant not to allow any development of the more than 150-year-old campus that degrades Portland’s architectural character.
In making their case Thursday, the development group pointed to the study prepared by consultants at Planning Decisions, which estimated that if the project more than doubled the built square footage — roughly matching one section of the Old Port — the improved commercial and residential property would provide housing for another 387 people and 208 new jobs.
That evaluation assumes the development roughly follows the dynamics of the section of the Old Port bounded by Middle, Pearl, Commercial and Exchange streets.
The study further projects constructing such a development would employ about 1,400 people during the construction phase and would stimulate about $254 million in purchasing that could be made with Maine vendors when complete. It then could generate roughly $38 million in such vendor sales each year, the study found.
The study also claims the development would benefit the neighborhood and would encourage “complementary activities in vacant and underutilized areas nearby.”
The Portland Co. complex had been on the market for years before it was sold for $6.1 million in April 2014 to development group CPB2, whose principals include Jim Brady, the developer behind a boutique hotel in the former Portland Press Herald building. Casey Prentice and Kevin Costello are also managers of the project.