PORTLAND – The work to transform the Cumberland Cold Storage Building into upscale law offices has barely begun, but Pierce Atwood officials were eager Wednesday to show off what will be their new home next summer.

The law firm held a reception in the building, displaying sketches of what it will look like when the it moves from its current location at 1 Monument Square. Most of the waterfront structure was off-limits because of demolition.

Pierce Atwood wants to change the focus from the controversy over a $2.8 million tax break given to the owners of the building and the city’s decision to move a bait operation that the firm felt would be too close to the new offices.

“It’s been a long and winding road for a lot of reasons,” said Gloria Pinza, the firm’s managing partner. “But now, we’ve just gotten really excited about it.”

Pinza said the firm was negotiating with a property owner in South Portland last spring when Portland officials asked Pierce Atwood to reconsider leaving the city. When the city put the firm in touch with Waterfront Maine, the owner of the building, the firm began to consider that moving to the waterfront could please employees and make an impact on clients.

“We’re not trying to impress in terms of expense,” she said, but hope for a reaction of, “Wow, this is a neat use of an old building.”

The structure dates back 160 years but is sound, Pinza said. It has been used as self-storage space for decades.

The design calls for a modest entrance on the east side of the building and a reception area on the first floor, with the rest of the ground floor to be rented to marine-related businesses. The law offices will be on the upper floors, with a large conference area on the top floor and a rooftop deck off an employees’ lunch area.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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