August 17, 2013

Residences proposed for Thompson's Point

Additional approvals from Portland are required to add housing units to the $100 million mixed-use project.

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

In this 2011 file photo, Thompson's Point in Portland. The latest version of a $100 million mixed-use project on Thompson's Point will require changes to an agreement that would have returned as much as $32 million in property taxes to the developer, according to the city's economic development director.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

"Given the proximity to the transportation center, having residential uses right there is a plus," said Anton, who chairs the Finance Committee.

Councilor Cheryl Leeman, who served on the community development committee when the tax break was negotiated, said the project seems to have undergone "tremendous changes" based on press reports. Her comfort level with changing the tax deal would depend on the final plan submitted to the city, she said.

"Any major deviation from the original plan approved by the council would require another look," Leeman said.

According to the 2011 tax agreement, developers would receive up to a $32 million rebate of property taxes over 30 years if they followed a specific development program. They would not begin receiving the rebates until the have added $5 million to the assessed value of the site.

Only certain parts of the project were eligible for the break, and now that the development has changed extensively, the city will have to reconsider the terms.

Developers also received city approval for a temporary surface parking lot, which would allow them to delay the construction of a $28 million parking garage until the event center can be built.

Construction of the event center cannot take place until Suburban Propane is relocated. It is unclear when that will happen.

Mitchell said discussions about possibly locating the company to a city-owned parcel on Riverside Street are ongoing. That land is also being eyed for a consolidated public works facility, he said, so staff is working to ensure there is enough room for both.

The project is progressing more slowly than originally envisioned. Developers only closed on the $7.4 million sale in June. Construction was expected to begin in 2012, and the Red Claws expected to begin playing home games at the event center in 2013, but a shovel has yet to be placed in the ground.

The timing of the project came up several times at a circus conservatory press conference Thursday.

Mayor Michael Brennan thanked Thompson for his "patience and perseverance."

Paul Andersen, president of Androscoggin Bank, which is financing part of the project, also sounded optimistic.

"Every type of development starts the same way. It starts with one project," Andersen said at Thursday's press event. "When one project happens, other projects happen -- that's why this is so significant."

Mitchell agreed, saying the circus conservatory's announcement signaled a major milestone.

"From my perspective, this is evidence of the start of the project," he said.

 

Staff Writer Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

rbillings@mainetoday.com

Twitter: @randybillings

 

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