Developers of the Thompson’s Point project are negotiating with a potential tenant for a yet-to-be-built office building as part of the $110 million business, arts, sports and transportation complex planned for the former industrial site in Portland.

Chris Thompson, one of the lead developers on the project, said Friday he is “very encouraged” by the direction of the negotiations, but wouldn’t reveal further details, including whether it’s a local company or one from out of town.

Thompson, along with city and state officials, spoke Friday at a ground-breaking event held at the development site, complete with gold-plated shovels. The Portland Planning Board on March 11 unanimously approved the development project’s master plan, which calls for redeveloping roughly 30 acres of former industrial land visible from Interstate 295 and across the Fore River from the Portland International Jetport.

The event Friday marked the beginning of off-site infrastructure improvements that will prepare the property to host a number of summer events, including the large beer festival Sierra Nevada Brewing said this week that it would bring to Portland on Aug. 1.

“Today was about recognizing our many partners in bringing this project to the starting point,” Thompson said. “This a significant step. When construction starts, that’s a huge development for everyone.”

Thompson and his partner, Jed Troubh, singled out the city of Portland and state for their support.

“A project like this requires a public-private partnership and we’re lucky we have great partners in the city of Portland and the state of Maine,” Troubh said.

The $3.8 million worth of public infrastructure improvements, funded by federal, state and private sources, include widening the Thompson’s Point access road to three lanes, improvements to I-295’s Exit 5A ramp, a new sidewalk on nearby Sewall Street, and “traffic calming” on Congress Street.

The infrastructure improvements are scheduled to be complete by early July, Thompson said.

“When you look, there’s no place in Portland more in need of infrastructure improvements than right here,” Ed Suslovic, the city councilor representing District 3, which includes Thompson’s Point, said at the event. Thompson’s Point is expected to be the home of the Maine Red Claws and the Open Bench Project, a makers’ space for craftspeople and artists. It is also to be the location of the Circus Conservatory of America, the nation’s first accredited circus school.

Whit Richardson can be contacted at 791-6463 or at:

wrichardson@pressherald.com

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