REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION

Time & Temp building suffering from neglect

A historic office building that defines downtown Portland’s skyline is in the midst of an exodus of tenants as the property continues to fall into disrepair. Problems within the Time & Temperature Building at 477 Congress St., including expired inspection certificates in the building’s elevators, peeling paint, corroded metal beams in the parking garage and persistent HVAC problems, have led many tenants in the 93-year-old building to leave. Occupancy in the 14-story tower is below 60 percent, according to its marketing material. CW Capital Asset Management of Bethesda, Maryland, which initiated foreclosure proceedings against the building’s former owner, did not respond to an email requesting comment. Read the story.

Campground potential site for proposed casino

Backers of a proposed York County casino selected a 14.5-acre campground and mobile home park in Old Orchard Beach as a potential site for the project, if the measure is approved by statewide voters on Nov. 7. Progress for Maine, the political action committee backing the ballot question, identified the campground, mobile homes and about 10 single-family homes on a cluster of parcels that cover roughly 25 acres just off Interstate 195, between Orchard Park Road and Old Orchard Road. The site and a related construction budget were described in an appendix to an economic development study that the PAC unveiled in September. However, a spokesman for the casino campaign said Thursday that the location was used only to provide a “base case” scenario to calculate the economic benefits of the casino. Read the story.

 Two developers submit visions for multi-gen housing proposal

Two real estate developers have submitted proposals to build a compact neighborhood for moderate-income residents in partnership with the town of Cumberland. At a public meeting Tuesday night at Cumberland Town Hall, Portland-based developers Bateman Partners LLC and Developers Collaborative each presented its vision for a neighborhood project proposed by the town that would include senior housing, an assisted living facility and a community center. Cumberland wants to partner with a developer to build a neighborhood of up to 100 homes for people of various ages and income levels. Town officials issued a request for qualifications, a means of gauging developer interest in the proposed project, and held an informational meeting in September that attracted at least a dozen development and design firms. Only two proposals were submitted, however. Read the story.

COMMERCIAL FISHERIES

Lobster season off to slow start

A cold spring, high bait prices and a stormy summer are adding up to a slow lobstering season in Maine. As of Oct. 1, the midpoint in the industry’s peak season, most Maine lobstermen and the dealers who buy from them agree the catch is down, some saying by as much as 20 percent compared with last year. Lobstermen will remain busy through November, depending on which region they fish, so it’s too early to tell whether the perceived decline will be reflected in the official 2017 harvest numbers that the state releases in February. Even so, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association called it a “painfully slow start” and said the slow pace of landings and the prices were well below last year’s. Read the story.

AGRICULTURE

$1 million in federal funding earmarked for food economy

Maine businesses and food projects will receive over $1 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including $500,000 designated for food processing and distribution in the Greater Portland area, according to U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree. The biggest single grant is to the Greater Portland Council of Governments, which will receive $500,000 for its project “Scaling for Growth in the Portland Foodshed.” That project is intended to address a lack of food processing infrastructure and an inefficient distribution network and will include outreach and training to 907 farms, wholesalers, institutions, processors and retailers within the Portland foodshed. Other funding coming to Maine includes nearly $100,000 for the Gulf of Maine Research Institute to address supply chain challenges for local seafood. The USDA grants also include $530,000 in Specialty Crop Block Grants to be distributed by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. Read the story.

MARIJUANA

Pending pot bill gives municipalities opt-in right for retail operations

A last-minute change to a proposed legislative rewrite of the Marijuana Legalization Act would make moratoriums and bans on marijuana operations superfluous, said attorney Amy Tchao of Drummond Woodsum to an audience of more than 100 municipal leaders at the Maine Municipal Association’s convention Thursday in Augusta. The change would require cities and towns to approve adult-use cannabis operations, not forbid them, she said. Some municipalities had sought temporary moratoriums that would give the Maine Legislature time to tweak the law adopted by voters last fall, while others simply wanted time to write their own ordinances, or to consult with municipalities in other legalized states for suggestions. A few had hired lawyers to craft permanent bans on any kind of adult-use marijuana business. Tthe proposed adult-use marijuana bill, which includes the opt-in amendment, will be the subject of an Oct. 23 special session vote of the full Legislature. Read the story.

MANUFACTURING

Boatbuilders could see boon from hurricane damage

Maine’s boatbuilding industry could get a spike in business as boat owners in Florida and the Caribbean repair and replace vessels lost and damaged in back-to-back hurricanes within the past month. Surveyors are sorting through piles of damaged boats to assess the full cost of hurricanes Irma and Maria, and it could take months to get a full account of the damage. Any repair work destined for Maine boatyards could be more than six months away, but a spokeswoman for Maine Built Boats, a trade group, predicts hurricane-damaged fleets will buoy the state’s boatyards into the future. Nicole Jacques said the group is expecting to see large deliveries of boats that need repairs over the next couple of years. Some boatyards already are preparing for extra work this winter as the owners of yachts usually destined for southern waters decide to stay north for repairs and maintenance. Others say they are unsure what impact, if any, the hurricane damage will mean for their yards. Read the story.

LEGAL

Energy company’s abandonment of pipeline project prompts city officials to review lawsuit

South Portland officials are weighing the impact of Thursday’s announcement by TransCanada Corp. that it has abandoned plans to build the controversial Energy East Pipeline, which would have carried 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from western Canada to the Atlantic coast. It wasn’t immediately clear whether TransCanada’s decision might increase or decrease the need to export Canadian oil through an existing pipeline that runs from waterfront terminals in South Portland to refineries in Montreal.

The Portland Pipe Line Corp. is fighting in federal court to overturn a South Portland ordinance that banned crude oil exports from the city and effectively blocked the company from reversing the flow of its pipeline, which currently transports a dwindling amount of foreign crude to Canada. Thursday afternoon, the city’s attorneys filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Portland seeking a temporary stay of summary judgment proceedings so they can review TransCanada’s action and submit a new request to dismiss Portland Pipe Line’s lawsuit. Read the story.

TRADE

Norwegian delegation exploring partnerships

A delegation from Tromso, Norway, is visiting Portland this week in an effort to boost trade between the two cities. Tromso is located 217 miles above the Arctic Circle and is the headquarters of the Arctic Council and Arctic Economic Council. The visiting delegation includes representatives from 12 businesses and Tromso city officials, according to a news release from the Maine North Atlantic Development Office. The three-day trip was scheduled to start Wednesday and includes meetings between Norway and southern Maine companies interested in biotech innovation, marine sciences, aquaculture, and food and beverage industries. Read the story.

GENERAL

Bisaillon-Cary opens consultancy

The former head of the Maine International Trade Center has started a consulting firm to grow Maine exports. Janine Bisaillon-Cary has started Montserrat Group LLC, based in Cape Elizabeth, according to a news release Thursday. The consulting firm aims to help Maine businesses develop export markets and sales. The new firm has four associates, according to its website. It is currently working with European and North American investors in the advanced manufacturing and food processing sectors. Read the story.