December 18, 2017
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South Portland bar where sports titans partied at risk of closing

By Jake Bleiberg, BDN Staff
Updated:

The building that houses the Griffin Club, a South Portland bar that served many of New England’s sports greats over its nearly 50 years in business, is on the market.

If sold, the building is likely to be demolished and replaced with condominiums, according to Scott Parker, who owns the bar but not the building.

“If it gets sold, it means I’m outta here,” said Parker, who took over the storied bar in 2008 and kept the name and sports memorabilia left over from founder and local sports promoter Eddie Griffin.

“For the price [the owner] is asking, some out-of-stater is probably going to come in knocking it down and putting up a bunch of condos,” he said.

A real estate listing prices the building, which sits half a block from the water in the gentrifying Knightville neighborhood, at $599,000. It suggests that buyers should “renovate or redevelop” the four-unit building.

Another ad on an online real estate market shows rendering of a sleek, new four-story building in the place where the turn-of-the-century Victorian now sits.

Byron Castro, the property owner and son of Eddie Griffin, could not be immediately reached for comment.

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For decades, the Griffin Club and its namesake were South Portland mainstays. Over the years, the bar, which sports a Celtic-green paint job inside, was patronized by the likes of basketball hall-of-famer Dave Cowens and Fenway Park legend Ted WIlliams.

“Everyone but Larry Bird came in here,” Parker said in July 2016.

But changes in the neighborhood in recent years have left the Griffin Club’s owner uncertain if the bar will have a future. Parker is looking for places to move, but he is worried about competition from the chains that have sprung up in the area and saddened at the history that would be lost if the 117-year-old-building is razed to make way for something new.

But as Knightville has changed, it’s become normal for developers to put up new buildings rather than fix up old ones in need of expensive repairs, Parker said.

With its old siding and furnace, the bartender thinks that the Griffin Club’s building going up for sale can only mean one thing: Someone’s going to tear it down.

 


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