PORTLAND — A $100 million development proposed on Thompson’s Point would generate 1,230 jobs during construction and support 455 jobs once it is operating, according to an economic impact study commissioned by the developers.

The developers formally announced the multiuse project at a news conference Thursday, promising to create “a world-class gateway” to Portland, said William J. Ryan Jr., a managing partner of Thompson’s Point Development Co., which plans to build The Forefront at Thompson’s Point.

The first phase of the development calls for two office buildings, a 125-room hotel, a restaurant, a 700-car parking garage, a music hall with seating for 1,000 to 2,000 people, and an event center that would host the Maine Red Claws basketball team, other sporting events, concerts and trade shows.

The timeline calls for permits to be ready by the end of this year, with demolition of the nine industrial buildings on the parcel to start during the winter. Construction is expected to start next spring, with the office buildings and hotel built in about a year and the hall, event center and garage ready for occupancy by the fall or winter of 2013.

Thompson’s Point, which has been on the market for $9.9 million, is a key parcel in the city, with high visibility to people coming into Portland on Interstate 295, planes landing at the Portland International Jetport, and trains and buses arriving at the Portland Transportation Center.

“This project will dramatically change the landscape,” Mayor Nicholas Mavodones said at the news conference. “It’s an opportunity to make a great first impression.”

The project will be privately financed, with a group of eight investors led by former bank executive William J. Ryan Sr. and developer Steve Griswold, along with bank loans.

That aspect of the proposal has generated the most excitement. Previous efforts to build a large convention center in Portland have unraveled because of the need for public financing.

The event center and music hall at Thompson’s Point would create the largest convention center north of Boston.

The center is “designed for maximum flexibility,” the junior Ryan said Thursday, with a 48,000-square-foot building that can seat 3,500 for Red Claws games — the developers are part of the team’s ownership group — and 4,500 for concerts. There will also be a large amount of floor space for trade shows.

The center is intended to be used with the music hall and hotel, with large presentations on the hall’s stage and “breakout rooms” for smaller groups on a mezzanine level of the center and in the hotel.

Most concerts in Portland are held now at Merrill Auditorium in Portland City Hall, which seats about 2,000, or the Cumberland County Civic Center, between Free and Spring streets, which has about 9,000 seats for concerts.

The event center’s seating capacity could draw “that middle ground (of shows) that Portland just doesn’t seem to be able to attract,” said Jon Jennings, another managing partner of the development company.

Although the plan doesn’t call for public financing, the developers are expected to seek a property tax break from the city. They can suggest tax increment financing, in which the city returns a portion of the increased property tax generated by the development, usually to help pay for upgrades such as wider roads or higher-capacity sewer or water lines.

Ryan said in an email that the developers “have had extensive discussions with the city on the concept.”

He declined to be more specific, but noted the high infrastructure costs and said, “those are the costs that we are looking to work with the city on.”

 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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