The headline read “Landmark Portland Co. shop to be demolished” but it could just as easily have read “Seven historic buildings to be preserved: Waterfront plaza created.”

Both are true, but the second better reflects what lies ahead for the old Portland Co. property on the eastern waterfront.

On Wednesday, the City Council created a historic preservation district that will protect the best known and most significant buildings on the site, opening the way for their creative reuse. In exchange for the removal of one building, the 1918 erecting shop, the city will receive a 50-foot right-of-way which will open views and public access from Fore Street to the water’s edge and serve as a new public plaza.

This is a good outcome to what has been a contentious process. The historic designation (which makes the renovation projects eligible for tax credits) and changing the zone from industrial to mixed use creates the potential for an outstanding rebirth of one of the most desirable locations in New England. Last November, voters overwhelmingly turned down a restrictive view ordinance, which was designed to limit construction on the site.

Now it’s up to the developers, CPB2, to show that they deserve the public trust they have received.

A great project, one that turns a much-loved but neglected site into a new landmark, would do much to offset the anti-growth attitude developers say they face whenever they work in Portland.

Fortunately, the concept drawings presented to the city envision that kind of project. The focal point would be the public plaza that could become a place where residents and visitors would go to meet and watch everything going on in the harbor and peek down the old alleys between the preserved historic building. Done right, the plaza would do for the waterfront what Tommy’s Park and Post Office Park do for the Old Port, or Monument Square does for downtown.

Developing the old Portland Co. site will bring good construction jobs to the city and create housing and commercial activity in a part of the city that has been left fallow. The addition of public access to the waterfront makes the future look bright.

It’s worth noting that Greater Portland Landmarks wanted to preserve eight buildings. The new district saves seven. It’s too bad that so much attention is being paid to the loss of one building, and not the other possibilities that include the acquisition of a new public park space.

It is a good trade and one that Portland residents can celebrate. The fight is over, and everybody won.