Chris Thompson, front, and his partner, Jed Troubh, are developing the 27,000-square-foot Brick South Event Center at Thompson’s Point in Portland.

Chris Thompson, front, and his partner, Jed Troubh, are developing the 27,000-square-foot Brick South Event Center at Thompson’s Point in Portland. Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer

Beginning in March, event planners will have access to a new facility in Portland that will serve as a blank canvas for a variety of uses.

The Brick South Event Center at Thompson’s Point, inside a former locomotive engine repair building, will be neither a convention center nor a concert hall, but it will contain elements of both. The 27,000-square-foot venue, which will accommodate as many as 2,500 occupants, will feature a large, rectangular indoor space with adjacent bathrooms, a bar and a commercial kitchen. It will be wired for high-capacity electrical use and outfitted with central heating and cooling.

Beyond that, Brick South will be strictly bring-your-own, as in furniture, equipment, food, beverages, cooks and other event staffing.

“It’s really envisioned to be a space that can accommodate a huge variety of needs,” said Thompson’s Point developer Chris Thompson. “We hope we’re offering something complementary to the market that doesn’t already exist.”

The opening of Brick South in March with an already-booked beer and music festival will kick off a series of additions at Thompson’s Point, he said. Other facilities in the works include a 135-room hotel, a 58-unit apartment complex, and a standalone building for an organization that Thompson would not specify but has been reported as being the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine. All three projects will break ground in 2017, he said. The hotel is the most complex piece under development and is scheduled to open in the summer of 2019.

Workmen repair windows in the large warehouse.

Workmen repair windows in the large warehouse.

Another component of Thompson’s Point that is in the planning phase is an 80,000-square-foot office building, Thompson said. He also is seeking approval for a boat dock that would accommodate a ferry service between Thompson’s Point and the Old Port.

Parallax Partners Inc., of which Thompson is president, and its development partners took possession of the 30-acre peninsula near Interstate 295 on the Fore River in 2013. Their goal is to convert it into a mixed-use development that can accommodate living, working and recreation.

“It’s about the size of the Old Port,” Thompson said. “We certainly have the ability to expand. There’s still many areas available on Thompson’s Point to build.”

Construction workers place piping in the facility's future restrooms. The venue will also have a kitchen and bar, and a large open space.

Construction workers place piping in the facility’s future restrooms. The venue will also have a kitchen and bar, and a large open space.

Thompson’s Point achieved a major milestone in March with the relocation of former occupant Suburban Propane, which had been years in the works. Fore Front Partners I, LLC, the joint entity created by Thompson and development partner Jed Troubh, entered into an agreement with the city of Portland in 2013 to purchase four acres near 636 Riverside St. for $300,000. The propane business was relocated there, with the developers paying another $2 million to build the new facility.

Some of the former rail yard’s existing brick buildings already have been renovated and are now occupied by creative businesses such as Circus Maine, a circus arts school, and the Open Bench Project, a membership-based group that provides work space and tools for product designers and creators. Big J’s Chicken Shack, Bissell Brothers Brewing Co., the International Cryptozoology Museum and Cellar Door Winery occupy the Brick North building across from Brick South, and a nearby outdoor pavilion and field have been in use as a concert venue, skating rink and snow-tubing hill.

Thompson said he is being choosy about the types of businesses he allows into Thompson’s Point because he is looking for a specific mix of tenants that will complement each other and enhance the overall experience for residents and visitors.

The Brick South space was once a locomotive engine repair building.

The Brick South space was once a locomotive engine repair building.

“We’re working very carefully to get the right group of partners and not just take the first, biggest tenant that comes along,” he said.

Parallax Partners rolled out the initial Thompson’s Point redevelopment proposal in April 2011. The $100 million plan included a hotel, convention center, up to 180,000 square feet of offices and a new arena for the Red Claws basketball team. The project has been modified several times since, and now includes up to 335 residential units.

There has been no construction of new buildings thus far, but several of the existing brick buildings have been renovated. With Brick South, Thompson wants to leave as much of the building’s rustic brick and steel structure intact and visible as possible.

“It’s a beautiful building,” he said. “Our task is essentially not to screw it up.”