Friday, December 6, 2013
By Randy Billings firstname.lastname@example.org
PORTLAND -- Developers have submitted plans to build a hotel and restaurant in the former Portland Press Herald building on Congress Street.
The Portland Press Herald building at 390 Congress St. is shown in 2009, about a year before the newspaper moved to One City Center. If it is converted to a hotel, the exterior would be left largely alone to conform with city historic district rules.
Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer
The Press Herald building, circa 1925. File photo.
Plans submitted by the developer, 119 Development, LLC, call for a 110-room hotel with the main entrance being located off Exchange Street, while the entrance for an 80-seat restaurant would be located off Congress Street.
The property, bounded by Congress, Exchange, Federal and Market Streets, is located across from City Hall in the Congress Street Historic District, so the city's Historic Preservation Board must review the plan.
Jim Brady, former president of the Olympia Cos., and Kevin Bunker, an advocate for downtown redevelopment, signed a purchase-and-sale agreement in June with John Cacoulidis, president of Grand Metro Builders of New York Corp.
Cacoulidis purchased the nearly 85,500-square-foot building, a portion of which dates back to 1923, in 2009 from MaineToday Media Inc.
Although several hotel projects have been completed recently or are in the works, there's still demand for hotel space in Portland, Brady said in May.
Tourists who visit southern Maine are increasingly choosing Portland as their "base of operations" because of the city's nightlife, its national reputation for restaurants and its boutique shopping, said Doug Fuss, president of the board of directors for Portland's Downtown District.
He said Portland hotels enjoy "tremendous demand" during the summer that drives up room rates in excess of $250 a night.
Brady said the building's narrow dimensions, which make it less attractive for office use, would work well for a hotel because every room could have windows.