July 12, 2012

Australian developers weigh Portland waterfront project

The company that is renovating a historic West End church to create office space is exploring development opportunities that include the Maine State Pier, where previous plans fell apart.

By Randy Billings rbillings@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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click image to enlarge

Australian developer Frank Monsour, in Portland last spring, and his son Sebastien have ambitious plans in the city. “We want to show we can be good corporate citizens,” Sebastien Monsour said.

April 2012 Press Herald file photo

McDonald said there is no listing price for the property, because it could be subdivided. He said the property is zoned for marine and industrial uses. It is not in the Waterfront Central Zone so it would not be subject to stringent rules to protect fishermen.

McDonald said the city's Eastern Waterfront Master Plan envisions redevelopment of the land under a contract zone that would allow hotels, homes and historic renovation of some buildings, which date back to 1900.

Any sale or redevelopment of the Portland Company Complex would have to preserve the marina and historic buildings, which host the Portland Boat Show and the Portland Flower Show, Sprague said.

Although he has not spoken with Monsour, Sprague said he believes the best way to develop the area is a large-scale project that conforms to the master plan.

Rathband said Monsour has met with councilors Kevin Donoghue, David Marshall and Edward Suslovic. The development team plans to continue its outreach to include other councilors, he said.

In their meetings with Monsour, Donoghue, who represents the East End, and Marshall, who represents the West End, said they emphasized the need to engage the public early in any development process.

Donoghue said his meeting with Monsour lasted only about 25 minutes, but he got the sense that Monsour is eyeing a large-scale, mixed-use development that includes event space.

Donoghue said he made no commitments to support the plan or any potential rezoning efforts.

Marshall said he met with Monsour at the Williston-West Church to ensure that developers were doing everything they could to mend the divide created by the rezoning request. He said he was surprised when the conversation turned to the eastern waterfront.

"It looked like they had a pretty ambitious project in mind," he said. "It was a surprise to me they were that far along in the process."

Monsour said he is in the "very, very early stages" of his investigation into the potential of the waterfront. He said the community would have a voice in any development proposal.

"We have fallen in love with the city and the state – especially my father," Monsour said. "We want to show we can be good corporate citizens."

 

Staff Writer Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at: rbillings@mainetoday.com

Twitter: @randybillings

 

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