May 11, 2013

Vacancies plague Portland waterfront

Pier owners can't fill space for marine uses, and an updated inventory of tenants could have an impact on the way space is allotted.

By Randy Billings
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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The ground floor of the Merrill’s Wharf building has yet to attract a marine-use tenant nine months after Pierce Atwood moved into the upper floors.

2012 Press Herald file photo/Gregory Rec

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Renovations move forward on a building on Portland Wharf.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

Farther west along Commercial Street, Sigfridson said a few marine-related tenants have expressed interest in the space at Merrill's Wharf, but several were rejected by the city.

Those prospective tenants included a marine-related apparel designer and user who owns marinas and island-related hospitality ventures.

Schmuckal said brokers have asked for determination letters for a few marine businesses, but they often lack information. She said the hospitality business was mostly looking for office space, which she denied. Requests for vessel berthing space and a ticketing operation were approved, she said.

"I'm just trying to be judicious," Schmuckal said. "Just because you're using a boat doesn't mean you're marine-related."

Steve Stracqualursi is the owner of 12wt, an online retailer which makes light clothing that fishermen wear in tropical climates instead of sunscreen. His application to the city to be a marine-dependent use at Merrill's Wharf was initially denied, but later approved after a personal meeting, he said.

"You need to be a lawyer to figure this stuff out," he said.

Stracqualursi said he ultimately decided not to lease space at Merrill's Wharf, because he would have had to invest more than $20,000 in the space before he could open.

His 12wt now operates at 2 Cotton St., where rents are comparable to those being charged at Merrill's Wharf.

"We still have hopes to grow into the type of business that could make its way down to the marine zone," he said. "We are boot-strapping our business."

While marine industries are struggling, Legere, of the Waterfront Alliance, said the city is right to maintain capacity on the waterfront in the event it makes a comeback.

"I think the balance right now is good," he said.

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

Twitter: @randybillings


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Additional Photos

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Several of Portland’s waterfront piers are undergoing renovations. The projects include work being done at Boone’s restaurant on Custom House Wharf.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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King’s Head LLC has leased this space on Merrill’s Wharf for a gastro-pub that is scheduled to open in September.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


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