Tuesday August 20, 2013 | 05:02 PM

April 2011 proposal for Thompson's Point

June 2011 proposal for Thompson's Point

June 2013 proposal for Thompson's Point

Back in the spring of 2011, the Press Herald ran its first story about the proposed Thompson's Point office, hotel, and sports arena project. The original proposal (pictured at left) featured a large sports arena and concert hall, along with a hotel, parking garage, and multiple new office buildings. 

Since then, the project has been redesigned, tax-subsidized, scaled back, and delayed (a few of the project's many plans from the past two years are pictured at left).

Over the weekend, staff writer Randy Billings had a story about the project's latest transformation.

The developers have acquired the property and made a deal to move the adjoining Suburban Propane business so that their project's footprint will now extend all the way to the Amtrak Downeaster tracks. And instead of demolishing the peninsula's old brick warehouses to build bigger office buildings, the developers are now planning to preserve and renovate them (one will house a new circus school). They're also looking at building new housing on the site. 

Portland's office vacancy rate, as of the beginning of the year, was 13%, while the residential vacancy rate is in the low single digits. In this context, the developers' pivot — building less office space, and more housing – seems to be a sensible response to the market's demands. Especially now that WEX, a potential flagship tenant, has announced that they're staying put in South Portland

Market Basket opens in Biddeford


Back in the dark days of the Great Recession, the Lowe's chain of home improvement big-box stores closed its businesses in Biddeford and Ellsworth, and local real estate brokers wondered how the cities would fill the 165,000 square feet of vacant retail space that each store left behind. 

Over the weekend, Biddeford welcomed the space's new tenant: Maine's first Market Basket grocery store, which takes the title for the state's biggest supermarket.

Staff writer Beth Quimby was there for opening day, when the store's 9-foot wide aisles were full of shoppers.

A few years ago, Maine shoppers generally had only two choices for groceries: Hannaford and Shaw's. Now you can buy food at Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and proliferating local markets like Portland's Rosemont and Lois's Marketplace in Scarborough (staff writer Ed Murphy had a story on these trends in the July 28 Maine Sunday Telegram).

Press Herald reporters visited five different chains a few weeks ago to find the lowest prices  for common items: explore the interactive feature here.

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I'm an economics wonk and an online content producer for the Portland Press Herald.

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